I was once told, probably by my mother, that you should never turn up to someone’s house empty handed. If hospitality is kindly extended your way, you should repay the favour with a little treat for the host. The gift should be thoughtful and appropriate – a bottle of wine or a bunch of flowers are pretty traditional, although I’ve also taken fancy olives and bath bombs with me when visiting friends’ houses.
So when we were invited to a friend’s house for raclette on Saturday, I jumped at the chance to make a batch of salted caramels. Salted caramel is very much in vogue in foodie circles – and the mix of sweet and salty is mildly addictive. I recently won a bake-off at work with a batch of The Smitten Kitchen’s salted caramel brownies, which are made by making little bites of solid caramel before folding them into a classic brownie mixture. So my thoughts got to wondering – why not just make the caramel part? Caramels are a perfect gift for your host and when they’re home-made, all the better. So I adapted the salted-caramel part of the Smitten Kitchen’s recipe, dipped them in dark chocolate and viola!
- 400g caster sugar
- 1 heaped teaspoon flaked sea salt
- 100g unsalted butter
- 150ml double cream
- 50g dark chocolate (and another pinch of salt)
- Petit Fours cases
1. Melt the sugar in a dry saucepan until it’s a copper colour, using a spoon to break up any big lumps if necessary. Keep on a low to medium heat, and be careful not to burn the sugar!
2. Take off the heat and add the butter. Stir until fully incorporated with the sugar (or as near as possible). It will bubble quite a lot – but don’t be alarmed!
4. Pour into a square dish, lined with greaseproof paper. Leave to cool for half an hour, and then pop it into the freezer for a couple of hours.
5. Take out of the freezer and chop into squares. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of boiling water, and stir in a little extra salt.