I received some artisanal salts for my birthday, and wanted to try out some recipes using them right away. These are salted chocolate caramels that I found on epicurious, one of my favorite sites for food - and drink! - recipes. There were a lot of mixed reviews for these - it seems there are two or three points at which the recipe can take a drastic turn for the worse, though you won't necessarily know it until the end. So it's something of an adventure.
With that in mind, I only made a half batch (rather expecting to fail), but they turned out fantastic! Here are the changes I made:
Instead of 5.25 oz. of high quality bittersweet chocolate, I used 2.5 oz milk chocolate (a bar I received as a gift from a student) and 2.75 oz of unsweetened baking chocolate. Good flavour. I may try again with a high-quality bittersweet chocolate and see if there's any noticeable improvement.
I only had dark corn syrup, so as far as watching the sugar syrup "darken," I had to go with my gut and experiment. The original time to boil was 10 minutes. As I was doing a half batch and working in a cast-iron saute pan (more surface area), I reduced the time to about 6 minutes and called it good.
I only heated the chocolate and caramel mixture to about 223 degrees. They are quite firm, not too soft at all. I'm glad I didn't go any further, and I think 250 definitely would have been too hot.
Instead of 1.5 T butter (for a half batch), I used about .75. For the cream, I used Horizon Organic Heavy Whipping Cream, which was literally the thickest heavy cream I've ever seen - it almost held small peaks as I poured it into the cup measure. I agree that they are still a bit greasy (I might try a lighter cream next time); however, I plan to merely quickly blot the bottom/sides with paper towel before I wrap the individual caramels up. Otherwise, the flavour is smooth, buttery, rich. perfect.
I also added my (generous) sprinkling of red Hawaiian salt at the 5-min point. None to soon - the surface was already hardening. I patted mine gently to make sure it was pressed into the surface. Perhaps I'm just cheap, but I feel there's no sense wasting good artisanal salt.
Finally, I turned mine out and cut them into long strips after 45 min - and yes, I oiled my knife frequently. After another 15 to 30 minutes, I had cut all of the strips into individual rectangular candies - by the end, they were becoming so stiff that the tops were beginning to stretch/scar as I cut them, so I'd say the 1-hour-mark is probably a good time to cut if you want the tops to remain smooth, dark, and glossy.