Monday, August 16, 2010

Pale Ale Caramels

When I first saw these pale ale and pretzel caramels on Sprinkle Bakes, I immediately bookmarked the recipe.  I found them fascinating, incorporating a beer into a sweet caramel and her photos made my mouth water.  Personally, I dislike beer.  My husband, however, thoroughly enjoys a good beer.  I figured this would be the best of both worlds so I had him save me a few pale ales and gave it a shot.  I originally used the exact recipe from Sprinkle Bake's website, however I had quite a bit of trouble with it.  I ended up over reducing the beer, creating a sticky mess on the bottom of my saucepan.  I also failed to consider how much the caramel would boil, and used too small of a saucepan for the caramels resulting in an even bigger and stickier mess all over my range.  Awesome.  When I finally managed to get the caramels into the pan, they hardened into a solid crystallized blob.  Back to the drawing board. 

I consulted a couple of my cookbooks: Field Guide to Candy and Chocolate and Confections and developed the below recipe.  The caramels turned out soft, buttery, and melt in your mouth good.  Honestly, they do not taste a bit like beer.  In the future, I will probably just stick with vanilla flavoring.  Its easier than reducing the beer.  I opted out of the pretzels that the original recipe called for, because this recipe was a bit of an experiment already. 

Pale Ale Caramels adapted from Chocolate and Confections and Sprinkle Bakes
  • 2 cups 20granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 12 oz pale ale, divided
  • 24 oz evaporated milk
  • 10 oz heavy cream
  •  1.5 oz butter (2-3 tablespoons)
  • 20 oz Caro syrup
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
Take 1 cup of the pale ale and pour in a medium to largish bowl and stick in the microwave for about 10 minutes or until the ale is reduced to a few tablespoons.  You want to make sure that your bowl is large enough to accommodate the boiling of the beer.  Optionally, you could simmer the beer on the stove unless you are me who starts doing three other things and soon has a burned sticky mess on her hands.  The beeping of the microwave keeps me accountable.  Also, you lessen the chance of caramelizing the beer.

In a large saucepan, combine the sugars, remaining ale, evaporated milk, and cream.  When making caramel, you want to add the sugar to liquid alone to be sure that the sugar fully dissolves.  Bring to a boil.

Once boiling, add the Caro syrup.  This helps to prevent crystallization and gives the caramel chewiness.  Bring the mixture to 230 degrees Fahrenheit.  With caramel, it is better to have a long slow cook to allow the flavors to develop and prevent burning of the milk products.  Once the mixture is up to 230 degrees Fahrenheit, add the butter.

When the temperature reaches 239 degrees Fahrenheit, remove from the stove.  Add the salt and 2 tablespoons of the reduced beer syrup.  Pour into a buttered and tin foiled 9x13 pan.

Allow to set and cut into pieces with a well oiled knife.  Wrap with wax paper or dip in chocolate.  These babies loose their shape so they need to be wrapped.  Also, if it is very humid out like it has been in the Midwest here, don't make these without air conditioning.  They will not set up well. 

1 comment:

  1. I love caramels, but could never make them at home...there would be a real danger of eating them all at once and not being able to open my mouth, ever ;)


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