are chocolate caramels possible w/ 72%?

I have become very interested in caramel making and have perfected my cardamom pistachio caramels with candied orange, but i have now failed twice with my attempt to make the same flavor combination using chocolate caramel. I prefer dark chooclate and not cloyingly sweet sweets. I have twice tried to make chocolate caramels (not on humid days) with 72% chocolate. Both times, as I bring up the mixture beyond 220 degrees F, it separates and will not come back together, no matter the amount of whisking.The butterfat separates out . I like my caramels chewy and not soft so I normally take them to 260-265 degrees F. Here is the recipe I have tried. Do you have advice or another recipe that works? Thanks so very much for your help.:
1)this first recipe is the one i have tried. it is also on a blog where the cook claims to have made it successfully w/ 72%.

2 cups heavy cream
10 1/2 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (no more than 60% cacao if marked), finely chopped
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces
2 teaspoons flaky sea salt such as Maldon
Vegetable oil for greasing

Bring cream just to a boil in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan over moderately high heat, then reduce heat to low and add chocolate. Let stand 1 minute, then stir until chocolate is completely melted. Remove from heat.

Bring sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt to a boil in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil, uncovered, without stirring but gently swirling pan occasionally, until sugar is deep golden, about 10 minutes. Tilt pan and carefully pour in chocolate mixture (mixture will bubble and steam vigorously). Continue to boil over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until mixture registers 265°F on thermometer, about 15 minutes. Add butter, stirring until completely melted, then immediately pour into lined baking pan (do not scrape any caramel clinging to bottom or side of saucepan).
Let caramel stand 10 minutes, then sprinkle evenly with sea salt. Cool completely in pan on a rack, about 2 hours.

Carefully invert caramel onto a clean, dry cutting board, then peel off parchment. Turn caramel salt side up. Lightly oil blade of a large heavy knife and cut into 1-inch squares.

2)this second recipe i have not tried because it appears to be way too sweet for my notes are in caps.

2 1/2 cups light corn syrup

4 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 pound plus 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped in small pieces

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces

Vegetable-oil cooking spray


Spray an 11 3/4-by-16 1/4-inch baking pan with vegetable-oil spray. Set aside in a spot where it will not be moved. In a heavy 4-quart saucepan, combine 2 cups cream, corn syrup, sugar, and salt. Clip on candy thermometer. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, 15 to 20 minutes. Wash down sides of pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to remove any sugar crystals.

Cook, stirring constantly, until temperature reaches 220 degrees, 6 to 8 minutes; watch so mixture doesn't boil over. Continue stirring, and add chocolate and butter; keep mixture boiling, and slowly add remaining 2 cups cream. Cook, still stirring, until temperature reaches 240 degrees (soft-ball stage),NO! GO TO 265 DEGREES F. about 60 minutes, keeping mixture at a low boil.

Without scraping pot, pour mixture into prepared pan. Let stand uncovered at room temperature for 24 hours without moving.

To cut, spray a cutting board with vegetable-oil spray. Unmold caramel onto sprayed surface. Using a large knife, cut into 1-by-1 1/4-inch pieces or other shapes. Wrap each piece in cellophane or waxed paper.

LeBec Fin


LeBec F. February 13, 2012
thanks much mrs.L and hla, i have spent 4 hours today further reearching caramel making, and this issue with the need for a slow change in temp- is something i started considering.
i also thought i should include some cream of tartar, which hla and others have used, to inhibit crystallization.

The thing that continues to perplex me is how every caramel recipe i see, all purportedly successful, is different in its cream/sugar ratio.With caramel so 'temperamental', how could very different ratios all be successful? and why is there no web info on how much chocolate can be used in any given caramel recipe? sooo frustrating. sigh.

Well, soon i wll be trying again for success , and will report back of course. thank you again.
Mrs. L. February 13, 2012
Another consideration is how you're cooking the caramels. Good, rich caramels need to come together very slowly. The fat and sugar need time to mingle and must be stirred constantly, slowly but constantly. Also, in the first recipe their times are WAY off! When I make a full batch of caramels (5 lbs), chocolate or otherwise, I cook them very slowly over medium-low heat and it takes about an hour or longer for them to cook to 245 deg. I use a heat-proof spatula and scrape down the sides and bottom every few minutes and stir gently the entire time, taking 1-2 minute breaks when I need to. It does get boring standing there for so long but the end result is worth it!

Try the first recipe with the instructions from MS. There isn't any reason why the chocolate needs to be melted into the cream separately. I've used Martha's method several times and had no problems...and it cuts out the extra pan and work!
hardlikearmour February 12, 2012
A similar problem happened to someone who made my coconut cajeta and chocolate fondue when they used a lower fat coconut milk. I think the chocolate may be causing the sugar to crystallize (even though theoretically the corn syrup should be preventing it.) I'd probably try increasing the butter and add it to the chocolate & cream mixture, fat can also help interfere with crystallization. You may want to scale back the chocolate a couple of ounces, too. For what it's worth, with the majority of caramels I make, if I took the final mixture to 265º they would break your teeth they'd get so hard.
LeBec F. February 12, 2012
mrs.L, thanks so much for your reponse. I forgot to ask- do you see any sense behind the advice i have seen elsewhere of 'do not double this recipe'?

I find that I am even more perplexed with the problem recipe because I have looked at my successful non-chocolate caramels recipe and have found that it has a major commonality with the problematic epicurious recipe! Both recipes, the successful and the problematic, have almost equal parts of cream/butter and sugar/cornsyrup.

My non choc recipe has [13.5 T.cream+ 4T butter to 13.3 T. brown and white sugar combo + 8T corn syrup] though it has no water. The epicurious recipe has 13.5 T heavy cream+ 4 T. butter to 13.5 T sugar and 8 T.corn syrup. Because that ratio of fat to sugar is almost identical in the good and the bad recipe, I can't help but think that the problem lies elsewhere(the water ? the corn syrup/sugar ratio? the %cacao chocolate?)

I think the water component in the problem recipe is irrelevant- i think it is just there to help keep the sugar from getting to its first temperature level too quickly. It will have evaporated out by the time the sugar gets dark brown.

The problem recipe's corn syrup to sugar ratio is 1/3.5 compared to my successful recipe's 1/2.7 and the MS ratio of 1/2. So it seems that the problem recipe's ratio should be adjusted as you suggested.

I still don't know if the chocolate's cacao % plays into this.

I am wary of the MS recipe because it is sweeter: only 5 cups of cream/butter and 7 cups of sugar/corn syrup . (Even with my successful recipe with its equal parts fat to sugar, I add espresso powder to bring down the sweetness!)

Any other thoughts? Thnx so much.
Mrs. L. February 11, 2012
I have made the Martha Stewart recipe several times with great success! I actually use a variation of it for my caramel company, Mrs. Littlefield's. I think some of the issues with the first recipe may the addition of water, not enough corn syrup, and too much cream for the amount of sugars. I would suggest trying the MS version with half brown sugar, half white sugar (the molasses in the brown sugar deepens the caramel flavor). They should come out rich and very dark (I use 63% cacao).

Let me know how they turn out!
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