Good day, everyone! We’re going to make today a Twofer Thursday; I fully intended to publish this one on Tuesday, but I got caught (literally!) in the middle of the Snowpocalypse of the Damned, and that sort of put a kink in my style. So I’ll also be sharing another post later on today to make up for it. The good news is, Matt and I both made it home safely, and now I can share these *amazing* homemade caramels with you!
I’m continuing my theme of Christmas Gift Week, where I’m showcasing recipes made with food/cooking related Christmas gifts this year. Today’s recipe highlights two gifts: a new cookbook I bought with some money I got from my mom, and a brand new candy thermometer from my sister and brother-in-law!
A few years ago, I bought the cheapest candy thermometer I could find (mistake) and well, you get what you pay for. It pretty much sucked. Thus, I’ve tended to stay away from making things that require one, like marshmallows, fudge, and caramel sauce. Thanks to my dear sister and her family, I’m back in business! This new one is awesome! Much easier to use and read. Thanks you so much, Megan, Trey, Jack and Claire!!
The book I got myself is entitled, Bacon 24/7. I don’t have to tell anyone how incredibly awesome that is, right? I mean, there’s bacon in Every. Single. Recipe! Come on!! How cool is that? These candies are the first thing I’ve made from the book, and so far, I’m quite impressed.
I have to sort of apologize for my pictures today; I took these babies to a gathering at a friends’ place and could not bring my new fancy-pants camera along. So I had to slum it with the point-and-shoot. I’ll rationalize by saying that sharing good food with good friends, which is what I did, is way more important than food photography, and if I have to choose, I’ll choose my friends every time. That works, right? 😉 These were well-loved and highly complimented by everyone in attendance. Try them yourself, soon, and you too can be the most popular person at your next gathering! Thank you so much for the book, Mom!!
Source: Bacon 24/7 by Theresa Gilliam
2/3 cup hazelnuts
½ cup cooked and crumbled bacon (about 6 slices)
¾ cup buttermilk
¾ cup heavy cream
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1/3 cup light corn syrup
¼ cup (4 tbs) unsalted butter, cut into pats
¼ tsp kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Spread the hazelnuts on a small baking sheet or a cake pan. Toast in the oven for about 8 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a clean kitchen towel and rub briskly to remove the skins. You don’t have to be too precious about every little bit of skin coming off, just get the majority of it. Chop the hazelnuts coarsely.
Spray an 8×8 inch square baking pan with cooking spray. Cut 2 pieces of parchment paper (about 8×15 inch) and lay 1 vertically in the pan and the other horizontally in the pan so the pan is fully lined with the parchment paper with the extra paper coming up over the sides to make handles to remove the cooled caramels. Spray the parchment paper with cooking spray.
Sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts evenly over the bottom of the pan, then sprinkle the bacon evenly over the hazelnuts. Set aside.
Combine the buttermilk and heavy cream in a measuring cup. Pour half the mixture into a medium saucepan. Add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Continue to cook 10 minutes without stirring.
Now stir in the remaining buttermilk mixture; continue to cook without stirring until the temperature reaches 250 F on a candy thermometer. This takes roughly 10 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla, being careful of your hands and face as it will bubble and steam.
Immediately pour the hot caramel into the prepared pan, over the bacon and hazelnuts. Leave it to cool completely, at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
When the caramel is completely cooled, lift it out of the pan with the parchment handles. Lightly grease a sharp knife and cut the caramels into about 48 even squares. The book says you can store the caramels at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. I wouldn’t know anything about that, and you probably won’t either. These little morsels disappear fast!