Every so often, we scour the site for cool recipes from our community that we then test, photograph, and feature. These sweet, salty, and smoky caramels come from longtime community member hardlikearmour, who was inspired by the holiday caramels her mother made every Christmas.
As far as I’m concerned, the best gifts are the ones from the heart. And I’m not a doctor (sorry, Dad), but the fastest way to a person’s heart is through their stomach. Which is why making edible gifts—the ones that you munch, crunch, or sip—is a great option for everyone on your list.
There’s no wrong way to make food gifts—we all have to eat!—but the ideal presents are both tasty and a little bit of a challenge. It's exciting to give your loved ones something they can't (or don't have the time) to make themselves. For hardlikearmour, her family made caramels.
“When I was a kid one of the best things about Christmas was the caramels my mom would make,” hardlikearmour says. “She would cut them into the tiniest pieces, and we kids would help her to wrap them. Many never made it into the wrapping paper."
As an adult, she tried her own hand at candy making with caramel extravaganza, experimenting with flavors and textures until she found a favorite: salted caramels infused with liquid smoke and woody lapsang souchong tea.
Fellow community member Burnt Offerings overcame her caramel-making fears to try out these candies, and wasn’t disappointed:
The flavor profile on these is REALLY wonderful and different, yet they are exactly as advertised. You get a distinctive tea flavor with a subtle smokiness and the nice hint of salt, but it doesn't overpower or compromise the warm, buttery caramel flavor.
Hardlikearmour's mother made and sent caramels to her children every year until her death a couple of years ago. And while making caramels at Christmas is now bittersweet, hardlikearmour's salty, smoky candies keep her tradition alive.
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 4 teaspoons Pine Smoked Black loose leaf tea (or other lapsang souchong tea)
- 1 teaspoon alder smoked salt
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 3 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 - 3 drops liquid smoke (Wright's hickory seasoning)
- 1/2 - 1 teaspoons coarse fleur de sel or chocolate finishing salt (optional)
Do you have a recipe that's been passed down in your family? Or one you want to make sure your future generations make? Let us know in the comments and it might be featured as one of our heirloom recipes!