Salt Block Salt Caramels

This recipe is an extract from Salt Plate Cooking by Mark Bitterman. Mark's recipe specifies a 20cm square salt plate but of course 2 x Himalayan Salt Plates 21cm x 10cm will suffice, or use a larger 30cm x 20cm salt plate.

"Caramel lovers fight over who invented the salted caramel, the French or the Americans. It was the French who perfected salted caramels by using precious fleur de sel as the salt. The mineral glitter of fleur de sel elevated caramel (which is incredibly easy to make) from ho-hum candy to globally fêted confection. Score one for France. My motivation for making caramel on a salt block was not so much that I wanted to taste a better caramel as that, as an American, I wanted to taste victory. Referees wanted."


Ingredients  Serves: 16

  • 20cm square salt block
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • ¼ cup agave syrup

Method

  1. Tear off an 18-inch square piece of heavy-duty aluminium foil. Put it on a baking sheet and put the salt block in the centre of the foil. Fold the foil up the sides of the block, creasing the corners to make them square as you would when fitting a flat sheet to a mattress. Fold the edge of the foil down all the way around, forming a 2-inch-high foil wall above the surface of the block going all the way around the perimeter. The salt block will now be sitting snugly in a foil “pan.” Spray the top of the block and the interior of the foil wall with nonstick cooking spray. Refrigerate the entire setup for at least 2 hours.
  2. When the block is thoroughly chilled, bring the cream and butter to a simmer in a small saucepan; remove from the heat and set aside. Boil the sugar, agave syrup, and ¼ cup water in a medium saucepan, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
  3. Boil, gently swirling the pan (do not stir at this point) until the sugar turns a pale golden colour, about 8 minutes.
  4. Carefully stir in the cream mixture (the mixture will bubble vigorously) and simmer, stirring often until the liquid reaches 120C on a candy thermometer, about 12 minutes. At that point the concentration of sugar will be about 87 percent and a drop of the mixture dribbled into a glass of cold water will form a ball that will be firm enough to lift up but flexible enough to flatten between your fingers.
  5. Remove the foil-encased salt block from the refrigerator. Pour the hot caramel onto the cold block. The caramel should set instantly, but be careful about pouring too close to the edge, try to keep the liquid caramel from flowing between the block and the foil wall. Let cool until firm throughout, about 2 hours longer.
  6. Remove the foil and cut the caramel into approximately 1-inch square pieces (8 by 8 grid). Wrap each piece in a 4-inch square of waxed paper or cellophane, twisting the ends to close. Store at room temperature for several weeks. If your environment is humid, put the caramels in a tight;y closed container.

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