Author Notes: Another adventure in caramels! This one uses a combination of black and green cardamoms, pink peppercorns, nutmeg, and bergamot orange. —hardlikearmour
Makes about 100 caramels (a 9- by 13-inch pan)
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 8 black cardamom pods, lightly crushed with flat side of knife
- 15 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed with flat side of knife
- 2 teaspoons pink peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon alder smoked salt
- 3 strips of bergamot orange peel (about 1/3rd of the orange, mostly peel but a small amount pith is fine)
- 2 bags double bergamot Earl Grey tea
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar.
- 3 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons bergamot orange juice
- 1/4 teaspoon green cardamom seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon pink peppercorns
- 3/4 teaspoon Murray River salt (or other flaked salt)
- In a medium sauce pan heat the cream, butter, whole spices, salt, bergamot peel, and tea over very low heat for 40 to 50 minutes, removing the tea bags after 15 minutes. The goal is to infuse the cream with flavor, but keep it below a simmer. Increase the heat to medium low once sugar mixture is boiling.
- While cream mixture is heating, line a 9- by 13-inch pan 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. Also mix the ground cardamom, nutmeg, vanilla and bergamot juice in a small bowl and set aside.
- Dissolve the cream of tartar in the water in a 6-quart stock pot. Add in the sugar and corn syrup, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat swirling pan occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Once sugar is dissolved and mixture is boiling you will need to keep a pretty close eye on the pan. 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 300º 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 325-330º F, or when it is a golden brown color.
- 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. Stir with a wooden spoon until sugar has all dissolved into the cream.
- Return caramel mixture to medium to medium-high heat and bring the mixture up to 244º F, or lower end of 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 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 close to continuously as you get close to your target temp to prevent burning.
- Pour caramel mixture into prepared 9- by 13-inch pan. After 10 to 15 minutes sprinkle with finishing salt. Allow to cool at room temperature until barely warm to the touch to room temperature. Use parchment paper to remove from the pan, then cut caramel into 1-inch squares, or whatever size pieces you prefer. Wrap individually with waxed paper, and store in an airtight container.
- Finishing salt: Grind cardamom seeds and pink peppercorns with a mortar and pestle. Mix with the flaked salt.
- NOTE: if you cannot find a bergamot orange don't fret, you can use a lemon instead.