japanese-style asparagus frites strawberry cinnamon rolls egg salad california poke roll


copyright jennifer yu © 2004-2014 all rights reserved: no photos or content may be reproduced without prior written consent


reading

Recipe: chocolate caramels

First off: that puppy is not mine. She belongs to my friend’s new beau. Her name is Sonora (I like dogs named after geological provinces or features) and she is 100% mutt.

Second: My shoulder and neck issues are more or less under control now, thanks! I gave up on the marathon coding sessions and now take breaks every couple of hours – which is great because I have resumed my 1-2 hours of cardio and that makes me uber happy. In addition, it is a great excuse to get back to some baking and cooking. Oh, and I ice my shoulder a couple of times a day and that reduces the inflammation. Heat always seems to aggravate the pain.

To the topic at hand: Fellow food bloggers have often wondered aloud (or on their posts) why they bother spending hours writing up entries if people don’t bother reading them? How do they know that some folks don’t read the entry? It’s pretty obvious from the content of certain comments. I am not all that concerned with whether or not people read my posts in their entirety or at all for that matter. It’s cool. I understand that some folks just like to browse the pictures (and if you’re a Daring Baker, who the hell has the time to read over 1000 entries describing the SAME recipe?) If someone wants to comment without having read the post, then that’s fine, although I might get a tad snarky in my reply if I’m running low on patience.

No, what really puzzles me about the whole thing is this: when it seems obvious to us bloggers that someone hasn’t read the post, is it really an issue of not having read the words or is it an issue of not understanding what they read? What it boils down to is: are those people lazy or reading comprehension-challenged? I suppose the problem with posing this question in the body of a post is that the reading comprehension-challenged won’t understand it, and the lazy won’t have read it.


what is this? caramelizing sugar again?!



I’ve stated in the past that candymaking makes me cuss like nothing else, and yet, I keep coming back to it like some pathetic crack addict. Why? I’m a fan of fun #2 (i.e. suffering)… and because there is a little joy to be had – that feeling of satisfaction if it should work out, if I should be victorious.

pouring caramel over chopped bittersweet chocolate



But really, what else is easier to distribute to people you like than candy (okay, maybe cookies)? I mean, I can’t walk around handing out salads or cream of broccoli soup or slices of pork tenderloin roast… but candy – hell yes! And people on the whole love candy.

let it set up in a pan



When I took a pastry skills class in 2007, we had a session devoted to candies. I was glad to have some guidance for candy making at high altitude, but more than that, it was good to give me a little confidence boost to attempt these on my own. I am not a candy person, per se. I’ll take a grilled cheese sandwich over chocolate any day, but if there is a candy that I love, it would have to be chocolate caramels. I happen to have a recipe from my class, so I made some the other day.

cutting the very soft caramel



I recalled that the caramels we made in class were soft, gooey. My intention was to slice them up and wrap them the way I did with the vanilla bean caramels. However, after a day of letting them set in the pan, I came to the conclusion that these would not be remotely well-behaved (far far too sticky and oozy). [That may also be because a small fraction of the caramel stuck to the pan when I poured it onto the chopped chocolate - because I was photographing the step...] So instead of wrapping a gazillion little caramels in wax paper – a task in and of itself, I resigned myself to the only honorable thing to do: enrobe the caramels in tempered chocolate.

they went from spheres to domes in seconds



Remember when I enrobed truffles over the holidays and said you had to work quickly? Well, you have to work three times faster on these suckers, because they hold their shape for all of two seconds – if that. I had to pick up each caramel, roll it into a ball, enrobe it, and slap it down on parchment before it oozed through my fingers, taking care to keep the caramel encased in the chocolate. It was more runny than I would like to have dealt with.

oozy blob shapes – i call it the handcrafted look



Chocolate was flying, flying I tell you! When all of my caramels were enrobed, I could see that the first half was in perfect temper, and the last half was out of temper. The tempered pieces hardened in no time and looked so shiny and pretty. The others were still wet, took forever to dry, and when they DID dry, they were streaked. If I enrobe candies more than three times a year, I will consider investing in a chocolate tempering thingy because my chocolate drops out of that 89-91°F range and it’s game over.

oh so worth the trouble



After cleaning chocolate off the table, the rug, the chair, my apron, my sleeve, and even my forearm (under my sleeve!), I tried one of the caramels. The taste was very satisfying, but more than that, the smooth and oozy caramel is perfectly delivered in a crisp, delicate shell of good dark chocolate.

the beauty of insanity



Chocolate Caramels
[print recipe]
from CSR pastry skills course

6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
7 oz. granulated sugar
7 oz. heavy cream
7 oz. light corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt

Line the bottom of an 8×8″ baking pan wiht parchment paper and lightly grease it with a flavorless vegetable oil. Place the chopped chocolate in a large bowl and set aside. Combine the sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a medium saucepan (3 quart was just right for me). Cover and bring mixture to a boil. When steam comes out from under the lid, remove the lid. Heat the cream gently until hot in a separate pot. Cook the sugar until the mixture reaches an amber color (mine turns amber at the edges first – so I usually consider it “amber” when the center just begins to turn golden as the rest will be fairly dark). CAREFULLY pour the hot cream into the caramel (don’t pour too much at once or it will overflow and splatter). Remove from heat and until emulsified. Immediately pour the caramel over the chopped chocolate. Let sit for 3 minutes. Stir until smooth, but don’t use a whisk because you don’t want to incorporate air. Pour the contents into the prepared pan and smooth it out and let cool about 8 hours or overnight – until solid. Invert the caramels onto a cutting board (I invert it onto wax paper) and peel off the parchment paper. Cut into 1-inch squares. Mold into shape if soft enough. Dip squares into tempered chocolate and put on parchment to set up. Store in a cool dry place, not in the refrigerator.

44 nibbles at “reading”

  1. Margie says:

    Okay, my dental work is ajar, but these sure are tasty. Dribble, dribble, dribble. My keyboard is a mess!

    And…I am guilty, as charged. I go aimless into the night, reading, half-reading, and then I take a re-route, and then a re-turn. I’m less than Mensa, but still flying above 100+. Go easy with me; I’m fragile and I consider you a mentor. Seriously. Seriously, I do. :)

    Back to that candy. Why just earlier, I was out floating the recipe files. I came upon that lovely caramel, chocolate, toffee…oh, there I go again! I ain’t good at remembering the fine detail. Let’s just say I messed my keyboard up earlier, too.

    Oh, and THAT puppy….too danged cute! There for a minute I wondered if Miss K. had a sibling.

    :)

  2. Rita says:

    If I say that I am jealous of your fnger nails (they are so beautiful!), would you think I didn’t read the post? Haha… I am not weird, I am just trying to grow my nails now…

  3. Passionate Eater says:

    Glad to hear that you are doing better, and yes, sometimes when I read my comments, I too realize that the commenter just looked at the pictures and didn’t read anything I wrote. Rather than be perplexed or even irritated, I try to be happy because they visited and left a comment, because I have only a few of those (visitors and commenters)! Your pictures are the best on the web, so even if they visit just to see your pictures, it is clear that people adore your blog and photog skills.

  4. Mrs Ergül says:

    If I have to make such declaration, I not only read through your entire post, I’m reading them from day 1. Backtracking.

    I haven’t had any problem with reading your posts from start to finish because they are not extremely lengthy and your writing style doesn’t bore me like others will!

    Now. You’re such a pro at making candies and enrobing! I’m envious!

  5. Y says:

    Chocolate caramels are dangerously addictive. I usually try to avoid making them at all costs :D

  6. johanna says:

    these look seriously indulging and addictive! i am a sucker for caramel – although my sweet tooth isn’t normally that pronounced either! i often have this situation when i am cursing while i am preparing something, then utterly enjoy the end result – it’s a bit like childbirth: the inute it’s over and you savour the fruit of your labour, you’ve forgotten the pain you went through and you’ll be caught in the same cursing situation over and over again. (sor far i have given birth more often than made caramels, but with your recipe, that’s about to change. despite your warnings;-))

  7. Rosa says:

    Incredibly addictive! These Chocolates Caramels look really good!

    I understand you point. Not all people seem to read our posts and sometimes they write hilarious things… It can be annoying.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  8. Peter says:

    Amazing job on these carmels. I’ve never been able to gather the courage to attempt enrobing any of desserts, so that alone is worth something in my books

    I only just stumbled upon your blog a couple of days ago and it’s absolutely beautiful. I’ve already seen about a million things on here that i’d like to try making. Unfortunately, i recently moved to Japan, which makes finding some of the ingredients quite an expensive challenge. Any suggestions for substitutes for corn syrup in this one?

  9. Gretchen Noelle says:

    I don’t think I have ever thought to make these. I figured the only way to get them was at a candy shop or in a box of sees candies. Something like this requires patience. I am sure the homemade version tastes oh so much better!

  10. Patricia Scarpin says:

    There was a year (2006, if I’m not mistaken or getting old) when I made a little over 50 chocolate Easter eggs – all that tempering scarred me for life, I’ll tell you, Jen. :D
    The results were great, I must admit. People loved it (I actually sold many of them).
    Your chocolate caramels look so good, and insanely decadent – my kind of treat. Maybe you’ll get me back in tempering chocolate after all. :D
    Hope your sore muscles are better. I got back to the treadmill – after a month – and even my eyebrows are sore… :D

    Oh, one last thing – maybe people read posts of those bloggers they feel more connected with. I don’t know, just guessing here. Reading the posts is a great way of knowing the people you like and admire, but I don’t mind if someone just stops by my blog to check the photos and/or recipes.

  11. veronica says:

    They look beautiful! I tried making caramel before Christmas myself, just ended in the trash… but I really like caramel so I really want to make it… tough problem. When I see this I really want to try again!

    And people who don’t read before the reply isn’t just a problem in blogs, believe me. I stopped using forums for the same reasons. Why read anything? Let’s just post something completly random… sigh…

  12. Bridget says:

    You made something that you think looks…handcrafted?! Sacrilege! :)

    Could you do me a favor, and at some point in a post, put some coated-in-tempered-chocolate candies next to some of the ones coated in out-of-temper chocolate? I haven’t yet been able to convince myself that tempered chocolate is worth the effort.

  13. Caitlin says:

    Sometimes I’m floored by people who obviously didn’t read posts before commenting / asking questions / etc. But then I see caramel, and have no words. Except that I really need to try tempering chocolate. And make an appointment with my dentist. Yikes!

  14. Tartelette says:

    I am loving what Passionate Eater said…very true.
    The caramels are absolutely divine, they look very artisan-like which is always a sign of true care and love on the part of the one who made them…because the recipients will never know the behind the scene cursing that went along with these!!

  15. Lezel Safi says:

    Holy crap Batman, those look so good! Yet, you are a much more patient woman than I, my 3 little ones would be in the middle of that faster than you could say, hell no! So alas, I’ll just drool from afar!!!!!

  16. Kitty says:

    I read every word and drool over the pictures. I’ve learned a lot of great techniques from your blog and I’ve also tried a few recipes. When you go longer than a few days without posting, I get worried that you’ve given up blogging.

  17. Amy says:

    The image of walking around handing out gift salads, cream of broccoli soup, or pork tenderloins to people made me giggle, I admit. Someone gave me homemade rosemary crackers for christmas, and it only then occurred to me that, hey, I guess there are *some* savory things that can be given as gifts, but I agree, sweets are generally adored and appreciated and are my go-to edible gift, too. Oh, and your caramels look positively luscious!! Way to go on the enrobing. :)

  18. Softy says:

    Your website not included – some text just is not interesting!
    A term people use to describe this is “food porn”. Do people buy Playboy for the articles? No they don’t.

  19. Amanda says:

    Honestly, I concentrate more on the entries instead of the recipe. I like hearing personal anecdotes. And as always, your pictures kill me. Especially the one with the cross-section candy. Wonderful!

  20. Sharon says:

    Your caramels and the description of making them highly tempted me to make candy for the first time! They look delicious and you can see the care that went into them…what giving homemade treats is all about.

  21. Collette says:

    I think the caramels look lovely. There’s something so beautiful about they way they dropped and spread. Okay, maybe I’m a little loopy. And, to that end, I do indeed read the entire post but sometimes I think stuff doesn’t always stick. Can I blame it on lack of sleep? Captain Destructo our toddler? I’m sure it has nothing to do with my advancing age…nope, can’t be that.

  22. Debbie says:

    There are certain blogs I go to where I read the posts and certain ones where I just look at the pictures or recipes. Yours is one of the ones I read. I love the way you right…Always the truth!!! The caramels look great. I could go for one right about now…

  23. cindy says:

    mmmm. chocolate caramels. you are a brave lady for tempering chocolate yet again in such close succession!

    i am guilty of not reading all the posts of all the blogs i visit…but i do read yours because you always seem to say a lot of the things that others don’t have the guts to (myself included…)

    good work, as usual and i’m glad your shoulder-neck issues are getting better.

  24. Maja says:

    there’s a thing you can buy for keeping the temperature of the chocolate just perfect?? where, where, what’s it called? i’m tempted at trying this this instant … but i ran out of chocolate (all 3 kg!!) making people presents for new year and i haven’t made anything sweet since :)
    good to hear about your shoulders :)

  25. Nicole says:

    Those caramels look delicious, but if you did walk up to me with a slice of pork tenderloin, I’d melt at your feet! lol.

  26. Nate says:

    How does one get on your candy mailing list?

  27. irene says:

    oh my god, i can’t believe you did it again. you are an inspiration to a fellow-candy-making-hating/loving-chocolate-tempering-loathing-glutton-for-punishment. i’ve also considered buying a tempering machine, but damn, they’re expensive. i’ve also thought of forming a collective to buy one and share it.
    keep up the great work!

  28. Lori says:

    Here’s the deal with me. I read every word you say in 99 percent of the posts as I find you fascinating. You have intelligent, informative, loving, mad, funny, sarcastic posts that I find intriguing. I suspect there is enver a dull moment with you. I like that. So I guess I am neither lazy nor reding comprehension challenged. (Although I will say that on a good amount of blogs I will see people commenting inappropriately as they obviously have not read everything).

    Now for a lot of blogs out there, I dont read everything, I peruse the pictures and sometimes read if something catches my eye. With Daring Bakers, sometimes, its check picture, write note.

    That candy is just plain luscious!

  29. Val says:

    You’re so funny. Your grumbling about making candy reminds me so much of my Mom when she made divinity. She always had a naked chocolate cake at the ready incase the divinity didn’t turn out. It was almost 30 years later that I discovered the divinity & the cake frosting were the same recipe, just different degrees of success. I always thought she was too tired to frost the cake when she made divinity. DUH.

    I only tried making cooked candy once & failed miserably. But your sharing this recipe & the frustrations of making cooked candy have inspired me to try this recipe. I’m not to proud to put a bowl of soft carmels out & hand out spoons. So thanks for making my day (& probably ruining my night!).

  30. peabody says:

    I think sometimes people just don’t have time but want to stop by and see what you did. At least that is what I have told myself. Often their comments don’t even remotely make sense with what I posted, but whatever. I post for other people but mostly I just do it as an outlet. If people enjoy reading it so be it. I find though, that most people really just read food blogs for the recipe and skip the post.

  31. Aran says:

    ok miss jen, i made sure i read the entire post from A to Z! (hahaha…) yes, I find that some people don’t always read the entire post but i have to admit there have been times that I have been guilty of it too so… there I admit it. i am such a visual person that sometimes i have enough with great photos. and you my dear, have spectacular photos!

  32. Diana Banana says:

    mmmmmmm……i can’t believe you, you’re incredible! whoever is going to receive these is uber lucky!

    i’m sure people who are like me wouldn’t object to receiving some of your savory goodies in a tupperware though, to be quite honest. the only problem is, you can’t really mail 95% of what you post, but i doubt anyone would turn down a nice roast tenderloin, or some of that southwest chili if you handed it to them. (you might get funny looks though…in high school once my friend’s mom roasted an extra chicken and sent me home with it. my mom didn’t know how to react when i walked in the door. “did you steal it?” “does she think i starve you?” “why on earth would she have an extra roasted chicken?”)

  33. Chiara says:

    Ms. Jen,

    I love your blog! I even read it at the wee hours of the morning….. and have told others about your blog, and have made others addicted to your blog! Love the pictures, love the recipes… and especially, love love love the pictures of the dogs! Thank you for posting regularly (and I check multiple times a day… I know, OCD!) :D

    Chiara

  34. Melissa says:

    I swear I was looking for someone to comment without reading on THIS post, just for the irony. Because I know exactly what you mean. Just had that happen with one comment yesterday. But out of an average 30 comments per post (on my good ones), if I get 1 or 2 of those I shrug it off. I think people don’t mean to be thoughtless, they may just be busy, or they may be slow readers so it’s harder for them to deal with trying to read all the blogs on their list. So they look at photos and just leave something nice, just to be kind. I give most of them the benefit of the doubt.

    On the other hand, another blog friend and I used to talk about this one person (who is still around, I see them quite a bit) who so obviously doesn’t read because every single damn one of their comments reads like:

    “_____ looks really good!” or “Combining ___ and ___ sounds great!”

    And that’s it. The blogger could have mentioned their dog just dying and I am telling you this person would still write what you see above. Sad, but true. I finally deleted them from my blog list because of it, even though the person makes pretty good food. *Shrug*

    I’ll take a grilled cheese over chocolate too, any day. But way to go on your caramels. And I’m glad you’re feeling better.

  35. Wandering Chopsticks says:

    I don’t mind that people just look at the pictures. But I do mind when people leave comments without reading. Especially when they ask me questions about the recipe that are already answered in the post. So then it’s a waste of my time to go back and basically quote myself to point out what they missed because they didn’t read. I think people are lazy. I think they are so lazy that they’d rather comment or email a question than spend a few minutes reading through a post in its entirety, or to Google an obvious answer. And when they do that, combined with many people who do that, I get annoyed.

    I don’t expect effusive praise over everything I write. I spend a lot of time working on each post. So if someone comments, I don’t think it’s too much to expect them to read through the post first.

    BTW, those chocolates do look good, and I don’t even like caramel. :)

  36. Asianmommy says:

    Your chocolate caramels are gorgeous! Chocolate on the rug? Oh no!

  37. Manggy says:

    Looks great! I think you meant the caramels to be spherical, right? Lol.

    Seriously, I think these are fantastic, I can just imagine. It’s fascinating to me how you got to enrobe them at all. I would have had to handle it like soft, melty taffy– resulting in tempered chocolate swirled into caramel. Not pretty. (Then again back at home it’s almost always 34 degrees celsius.) Actually, I think they might actually be better *because* they are so soft! Reminds me of a particular Green and Black’s bar… yum. Regarding the temper, maybe you can use this experience in the future– at the halfway point, re-temper the chocolate. (That is if you don’t really plan on getting that tempering machine!)

    I read the full posts 98% of the time, though the number falls slightly when my reading comprehension gets a little lower because of stream of consciousness posts or when I’m bothered by something. But anyway, that’s probably why it takes me forever to get through my backlogs when I’ve been away for so long!

  38. jenyu says:

    Margie – nope, no sibling for Kaweah at the moment.

    Rita – that’s hilarious ;) I grow them until they break (or until they make me crazy and I lop them off). It’s just nice to be able to grow them since they were constantly brittle and weak during chemo.

    PE – aww, you’re very sweet. I find it amusing more than anything else, but sometimes people ask things that are right there. I’ve been guilty of that too though!

    Mrs. E – not a pro! Not even close – hee hee.

    Y – yes, but if you make them, then you deserve the reward of eating at least one (or two?)

    Johanna – ha ha ha! I would much rather make caramel than give birth!! :)

    Rosa – exactly!

    Peter – ooh, I don’t know what to substitute for corn syrup. I know Golden Syrup is one possiblity, and it is sometimes referred to as invert sugar? If you ask around in Japan, someone (a candy-maker) would be sure to know.

    Gretchen – come to think of it, I think homemade is way better than store-bought! I just never buy the stuff in stores. These are among the simpler candies to make (but not the enrobing part)

    Patricia – FIFTY? That sounds awesome! Mmmmm. They must have been lovely. Oooh, massage those eyebrows, my dear! I also don’t mind people who just browse for pictures or whatever. I find it amusing when they write comments that so obviously reveal that they didn’t read a thing ;)

    Veronica – oh, I hate when something goes in the trash (and yes, it happens to me from time to time *sigh*).

    Bridget – done, chica. Tempered chocolate has a different texture as well as look. Plus, it keeps longer.

    Caitlin – the caramels are really extraordinary this way. I think perhaps I should invest in a tempering machine – hee hee!

    Tartelette – artisan? :) Well, if you say so, then I am totally flattered, my dear! Oh, *some* of the recipients know the cussing I do normally – ah ha ha ha!

    Lezel – yes, having children in my life would probably put a fast end to my blogging and candymaking as we know it!

    Kitty – oh, you’re a sweetheart! Thank you. I’m sure if I gave up blogging it would be obvious from a mile away :)

    Amy – it makes me giggle too (and drool, because I would love to receive a gift like a roast!) Thanks love!

    Softy – hee hee, I hope our food blogs are more than just the Food equivalent of Playboy! ;)

    Amanda – well thank you, dear. That’s really nice of you to say.

    Sharon – I totally agree! Homemade is so… special :)

    Collette – dropped and spread… I think this is the future of my boobies in the next decade… Oh, you can’t call your kid Captain Destructo!! :( Or maybe you can. It’s true, we call Kaweah, Lady of Destruction sometimes.

    Debbie – too bad I can’t create a little widget in wordpress to give you a caramel through your monitor! :)

    Cindy – hmmm, I think I’m just a loudmouth ;) But thanks and it’s cool if people don’t read my entries. I’m just happy that folk enjoy the blog, in whatever capacity!

    Maja – Well, it doesn’t make the chocolate perfect, but it helps you maintain the temperature (I think you still have to do the tempering, but the machine will keep it there once you get there). I’m so curious to try one, but they are pricey…

    Nicole – we could melt at each other’s feet b/c I love pork tenderloin too!

    Nate – ;) I don’t trust the US Postal Service. They have made powder of my shortbreads before :(

    Irene – thanks! Why are we such gluttons for punishment?!

    Lori – yup, I have to agree that with the DBers there is no way… Actually, I’ve been awful about commenting on DB posts lately, but I hope to have my shit in order this month!! :) Thanks for your very kind words.

    Val – Wow, your mom was PREPARED! What a smart lady. I hope the caramels work out for ya. They are really good (and gooey and yum).

    Peabody – I find it a mix. Some read the posts, some read the recipes, some look at the food porn, and some – some are clearly on crack ;)

    Aran – ahhh, you are a cutie :) Well, I too am a visual being, so that is probably why I looooove your blog, all of those gorgeous pictures of gorgeous foods.

    Diana – ha ha! I would love to get a roast chicken!!! :)

    Chiara – I’m OCD too. Yay for OCDers!

    Melissa – you are a riot, lady! ;)

    WC – thanks, hon. Yup, sometimes it can be frustrating. These days it’s more of a “huh?” and then “whatevs” and I move on, because I don’t have the time or energy to fret over it.

    Asianmommy – *flying* chocolate, I tell you!

    Mark – something closer to spheroid than ellipsoid ;) There were about 3 casualties toward the end when the chocolate and caramel mixed together and looked really bad. I ate those. Ugh, the thought of retempering chocolate makes my stomach turn. That would be really difficult with hands covered in chocolate. I’ve fallen behind on reading posts too :(

  39. Claudia says:

    Gorgeous port. I simply adore chocolate caramels, they are my favorite candy and now you have made me want to try to make them. Uiii!

  40. jenyu says:

    Claudia – Oh, I hope you like them. They are some of my favorite candies too!

  41. morgana says:

    Sorry for my silly question but… How do you temper the chocolate. I use frecuently my chocolate to cover cake balls but many times, the white spots appear and I don’t know how to solve this. Please can you help me?

  42. jenyu says:

    Morgana – You should read up on tempering chocolate at other better resources on the web, but I have a post where I discuss it a little here: http://userealbutter.com/2008/12/12/truffle-this/ and I’ll just say that I don’t find it to be an easy thing to do. Best of luck.

  43. shireen says:

    Hi Jen – I’m dying to make these but am wondering about the ‘let cool for 8 hours or overnight’ part. I live in a VERY hot and humid climate, would I be better off leaving this to set in the fridge? thanks!

  44. jenyu says:

    Shireen – hmmm, perhaps? i really have no clue. maybe try cooling for 8 hours and if it doesn’t seem to harden up, then pop it in the fridge?

leave a reply