Kelly asked me what my secret was for fried chicken. She'd tried making it once, but had accidentally added powdered sugar to her flour canister, which was disastrous. Well, I don't really have a secret for fried chicken. I like to make mine spicy and I used wasabi powder in lieu of ground mustard seed in an Epicurious recipe for deviled fried chicken that gave excellent results. So I told her my secret was not mixing up powdered sugar with flour. Then I felt badly for being sarcastic in response to a very valid question -- because who doesn't want to know how to make awesome fried chicken? -- and went in search of other people's secrets. I found a blog that did a taste test between someone's mom's killer fried chicken and Thomas Keller's fried chicken. I forwarded it to Kelly.
But this blog entry is not about fried chicken. No. This blog is about caramels. You see, in exchange for my fried chicken research, Kelly and her husband invited us over for a brunch with her friends (wherein they would be serving that guys' mom's killer friend chicken -- and it was indeed finger-lickin' good). She told me I didn't have to bring anything, but how could I not?
These lovely maldon salted chocolate caramels were unbelievably delicious, if I do say so myself, and when we joined that same gang at a pig roast later that day, they just would not stop talking about them. Even Greg, from The Denver Bread Company (whose loaves were a perfect vehicle for roasted pig) was intrigued by them. I could be onto something here.
Salted chocolate caramels
2 c. heavy cream
10 oz fine bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 3/4 c sugar
1/4 c water
1/2 c corn syrup
pinch fine sea salt
3 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces
2 tsp Maldon
Prepare an 8x8 square-sided baking pan (metal is better than glass) by lining the bottom and sides with parchment paper, then spraying the parchment paper lightly with oil.
In a small pot, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Add the chocolate and lower the heat to a bare simmer. When chocolate has melted, remove from heat. Place the sugar, water, and corn syrup in a large dutch oven and heat over medium high heat, without stirring, but occasionally lifting the pot to swirl the contents around until the sugar completely dissolves. Then, pour the chocolate cream mixture into the dutch oven and stir. Cook until a candy thermometer reads 250 degrees F, stirring frequently with a silicon spatula (do not use a metal spoon because you do not want to scrape up any burnt bits into the mixture). When it hits 250 degrees F, turn off the heat and stir in the butter until well-incorporated. Then pour into the prepared baking pan. Wait 10 minutes for the mixture to set slightly, then sprinkle the Maldon (or other flaky salt) evenly across its surface. Then let sit on a rack to cool completely, about 1.5 hours. Remove from the pan and cut into 1" pieces.
These will probably keep, if you separate them with parchment paper and place them in an airtight container, in a cool place for quite a while, but I don't think you'll have any trouble eating them or giving them away.