As with many of my experiments this is a tale of two extremes. The Heaven came in the form of David Lebovitz’s Salted Butter Caramel Sauce which was the most divine, eat it straight from the pan, sauce. The Hell came in the form of my use for it. I had wanted to try my hand at chocolate making and specifically wanted to recreate my favourite sweet treat – Liquid Salted Caramels, my inspiration coming from the ones I recently tried from Paul A Young in London. I bought some moulds and a large amount of chocolate and after reading through the advice and instruction from Youngs new book I set out to temper my chocolate and make my chocolates. All appeared fine and I filled the shells with caramel and put these in the fridge. Once the caramel firmed a little I sealed the shells with more tempered chocolate. The disaster came when I tried to get them out of the moulds and well, they just wouldn’t. No matter how hard I tapped, banged and in frustration maybe even slammed, nothing. Annoyingly the end result would have tasted amazing so I will definately try again but not until I have forgotten the mess my kitchen ended up in and the amount of chocolate wasted.
Salted Butter Caramel Sauce
David Lebovitz – “The Sweet Life in Paris”
2 cups (400g) Sugar
1 2/3 cups (400ml) Heavy Cream
2 Tblsp (30g) Salted Butter
1/4 Tsp Fleur de Sel or Coarse Salt
1. Spread the sugar in an even layer in a large metal Dutch oven or casserole. Set over medium heat and cook without stirring, until the sugar around the edges just starts to liquefy.
2. Using a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula, begin gently stirring the melted sugar bringing the melted from the edges to the centre. The sugar will start to look pebbly as it cooks, but keep going; it will melt fully as it turns amber.
3. Continue to cook until the sugar turns deep brown and just starts to smoke. The darker you can cook the sugar without it burning, the better the final sauce will be. Its ready when its the colour of a well worn penny (cent, centime etc), and will smell a bit smoky.
4. Remove from the heat and quickly stir in about a quarter of the cream. The mixture will bubble up furiously so wear oven gloves if your concerned. Continue to whisk in the rest of the cream, stirring continuously to make sure the sauce is smooth. Stir in the butter and salt. Serve warm. If you want a thinner or less rich sauce add 1/4 cup water water.
Note: The sauce can me made up to a month ahead of time and kept in the fridge. To serve warm just rewarm in a small saucepan over low heat or in a microwave.
This is the sauce I used to make the chocolates. When warm or room temperature the sauce is liquid but when cooled it firms up enough that I thought it would be okay to use.
Tempering the chocolate gives the chocolate its crisp shiny and smooth texture. If you just melted the chocolate it would be dull and softer and wont have that shop bought look or taste. Tempering is the process that creates melted chocolate with the right type of crystals so that is has the proper attributes, well thats the theory anyway.
Break 600g of dark chocolate into small even sized pieces and put two-thirds into a bowl. Fill a saucepan with enough water to reach just below the bowl when placed on top of the pan. Put the pan over medium heat and allow the water to heat up. Melt the chocolate slowly (Paul advises this should take at least an hour). Doing it slowly is so as to keep the chocolate’s temperature at 55C/131F. Once fully melted remove the bowl and place on a towel.
Whilst mixing vigorously add the remaining third of chocolate, mixing until this melts too and the chocolate is 27-28C/80-82F. Place the bowl back on the heat until it reaches 31-32C/88-89F. At this point the chocolate should be tempered.
To use with moulds first make sure they are clean, using cotton wool to wipe them clean. Fill the mould with chocolate, holding the mould at an angle so it only runs down one side. Scrape the excess off and them rap the mould on the work surface to eliminate any air bubbles. Turn the mould over the bowl to eliminate the excess chocolate leaving just the shell. Scrape the top of the mould so their shells edges are nice and clean.
Allow the shells to cool at room temperature. If you try to do what I failed at, use the caramel at room temperature to fill the shells but not to the top, and then refrigerate so it firms up a little then seal the chocolates with more tempered chocolate. Hopefully your attempts will be more successful and once cooled your chocolates will pop out easily and you can enjoy the wonderful little indulgences.