I just couldn't not make Valentines treats, even if I am a few days late.
Last year I made Fleur de Sel Caramels.
This year I took it a step further and covered them in Chocolate.
I have had some caramel making experience since this time last year. With Salted Caramel Ice Cream and my Birthday cake. Between that experience and the reviews on the Caramel recipe I knew to cook the sugar longer to get a lovely caramel color and flavor. I followed one reviewers tip to cook the sugar mixture to 270 degrees on my candy thermometer (this is the first step before adding the cream). This made a big difference. I also doubled the recipe but left out 1 tablespoon of butter. I used sea salt in the caramels and saved my Fleur de Sel for the tops of the candies. I poured the caramel into a 9x13 pan but propped a box of cornstarch at the end to make the caramel thicker.
I did all this last night and let the caramels cook and harden overnight.
This morning I cut them into pieces, roughly 1" x 1/2".
I melted Ghirardelli Bittersweet chocolate chips in a pyrex bowl over simmering water.
I used two forks, and dipped one piece of caramel at a time, completely covering them. The forks were used to lift, shake off excess and transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. I sprinkled the tops with Fleur de Sel right after dipping so it would stick. This process would have been much faster with a helper. It took me about an hour to dip the chocolates and I think I came out with over 80 pieces!
I tried dipping a few at a time, and by the time I got the third one out the caramel would be melty so I switched to one by one.
These are time consuming, but I split it up into two days, which makes it manageable. I haven't tasted a finished on yet, but I did taste the caramel and it is just right. I have no doubt they will rival the ones I sometimes have as a guilty pleasure at work. Time is the biggest investment here, but I probably make at least $40 worth of candies and only spent $10 on cream and chocolate. I bought a 30 oz bag of chocolate chips and didn't even use half. I already had everything else on hand. I know this isn't a thorough price comparison, but the $40 is based on buying from the bulk department at work for fifty cents a piece, and that is without any pretty packaging or a famous name attached to them. I know they could cost way more than that. I think making them at home is my solution for future gifts. I wish I had time to try out more flavors, maybe coffee, vanilla, chiles, the options are endless. I will be sharing these with family and friends asap so that I don't over indulge.
I still have to tell you my stories from working in the floral department on Valentines. It was actually quite fun! For now I'm off to search for ballet shoes for my niece and necessities for us.