Gingerbread Caramels

October 27, 2011

Author Notes: I thought the spices in gingerbread would be lovely in a caramel. To really add to the gingerbread flavor I used molasses instead of corn syrup. Since I was removing the corn syrup from the sugar mixture I used lemon juice to invert (i.e. break) some of the sucrose molecules to help prevent crystallization. It took me several batches to get them to set up well; I needed to cook them about 10º hotter than my other caramel recipes. To add some flavor contrast and texture I added dried tart cherries and candied ginger, something I recommend but leave up to you! The added bonus of making these is that your whole house will smell like the holidays.hardlikearmour

Makes: a lot of caramels

Ingredients

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup light, unsulfured molasses
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • large knob ginger – about 3.5 oz – thinly sliced
  • 15 cardamom pods, crushed with the flat side of a knife
  • 2 3-inch cinnamon sticks, broken into halves
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon allspice berries
  • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ cup dried tart cherries, coarsely chopped (optional)
  • ¼ cup diced candied ginger (optional)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons pulp free lemon juice
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
In This Recipe

Directions

  1. Combine the cream, molasses, butter, and spices and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then cover and remove from heat. Let steep for 45 to 60 minutes, then return to low heat while making the caramelized sugar.
  2. Line a 9-inch square to 9- by 13-inch pan (depending on how thick you want them) with parchment paper, so the paper is only going up 2 opposite sides (essentially forming a sling to remove the caramel with later). Spray with neutral flavored cooking spray. Scatter tart cherries and candied ginger over the bottom of the pan in an even layer.
  3. Combine the sugar, lemon juice and water in a 6- to 8-quart stock pot. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat, swirling the pan occasionally. Once you can hear it simmering, remove the lid, and increase the heat to medium high. You will need to keep a pretty close eye on the pan, and swirl the pan occasionally. If you are using a candy thermometer you will notice the mixture hovers near the boiling point for a while then starts to climb fairly rapidly. As the mixture approaches 310 degrees F, you will want to start swirling it fairly frequently as caramelization is imminent. Once caramel color is to your liking remove pan from heat. The pan will retain some heat so I like to remove the caramelized sugar mixture from the heat at about 325-330 degrees F, or when it is a golden brown color.
  4. Slowly pour the warm cream mixture through a mesh strainer into the the sugar mixture. It will boil violently and create hot steam, so use caution. I like to wear an oven mitt while stirring until the boiling has settled down. Stir with a wooden spoon until sugar has all dissolved into the cream.
  5. Return caramel mixture to medium to medium-high heat and bring the mixture up to 255-256º F, the middle of the firm ball stage (if you drop about a 1/2 teaspoon of the mixture into a bowl of refrigerator cold water it should form a ball, that is not soft but still somewhat malleable.) Stir often, scraping the bottom of the pan. As you get close to your target temperature you may want to turn the heat down to low if you are using a gas stove, or off if you are using electric to slow things down. Your caramels can go from too soft to tooth breaking within a short time frame. You will also want to stir almost continuously as you get close to your target temp to prevent burning.
  6. Remove from heat and quickly stir in vanilla extract. Pour into prepared pan, taking care to minimize disturbance of the cherries and ginger. Allow to cool to room temperature. Use parchment paper "sling" to remove from the pan, then cut caramel into 1-inch squares, or whatever size pieces you prefer. I periodically spray my knife with non-stick spray to help cut the caramels. Wrap individually with waxed paper, and store in an airtight container.

More Great Recipes:
Candy|Lemon Juice|Milk/Cream|Molasses|Serves a Crowd|Fall|Christmas|Thanksgiving|Winter|Vegetarian|Gluten-Free|Dessert

Reviews (22) Questions (0)

22 Reviews

gluttonforlife November 17, 2011
These look insanely delicious!
 
Author Comment
hardlikearmour November 18, 2011
Thank you, gfl! They are a lot like a piece of gingerbread condensed into a caramel form.
 
lorigoldsby November 6, 2011
Yum! Great idea of adding the cherries and ginger to a gingerbread caramel.
 
Author Comment
hardlikearmour November 7, 2011
Thanks, lori! The tart cherries really add some zing.
 
lapadia November 3, 2011
Oh, what a wonderful ooey, gooey photo; gingerbread just screams the holiday season! Thanks for loading us up with an arsenal of caramel flavors, hla!
 
Author Comment
hardlikearmour November 3, 2011
You're welcome, lapadia! Truth be told I'm a bit sugared out from making caramels.
 
Couldn't B. October 30, 2011
I love all your caramel recipes! I can't wait to try them. Thanks so much for the great inspiration.
 
Author Comment
hardlikearmour October 30, 2011
Thank you! I think making caramels is fun, and I love playing around with different flavors. I made your cocoa nib brittle, and it's HEAVEN! Tastes like the best chocolate chip cookie ever.
 
aargersi October 29, 2011
You really are the caramel whisperer - maybe you should make some in AUSTIN! (hint hint)
 
Author Comment
hardlikearmour October 29, 2011
Maybe I will!
 
boulangere October 28, 2011
Whoa, how did these get past me? The caramel queen strikes again. Wow!
 
Author Comment
hardlikearmour October 28, 2011
I snuck them in just under the wire!
 
boulangere October 28, 2011
Seriously, I love your flavors here. Trying them this week.
 
Author Comment
hardlikearmour October 29, 2011
Cool! Let me know what you think. They were a lot harder for me to get "right" than any other caramel I've done.
 
TheWimpyVegetarian October 28, 2011
These look amazing!!! I love caramel and love the gingerbread approach - these would be so addictive, I can already tell!
 
Author Comment
hardlikearmour October 28, 2011
Thanks, CS! They are pretty yummy.
 
wssmom October 28, 2011
Makes "a lot of caramels" hahahaha; seriously, you've combined two of my favorite things!!
 
Author Comment
hardlikearmour October 28, 2011
What's that, wssmom, "a lot" and "caramels", LOL! Thanks. I think gingerbread and caramel are great friends. BTW, have you been getting messages? I sent you one...
 
mrslarkin October 28, 2011
I bet these smell heavenly! Well done hla!
 
Author Comment
hardlikearmour October 28, 2011
Thank you, mrslarkin! They do smell amazing, especially while cooking.
 
gingerroot October 28, 2011
I love the idea of gingerbread caramels - I can almost taste all the dark, spicy notes - and I bet the contrast of bright, tart cherry and sweet, hot candied ginger is lovely.
 
Author Comment
hardlikearmour October 28, 2011
Thank you, gingerroot!