Eat local. Shop local. Put your money down locally.
I preach another kind of local… beer!
With the huge “craft beer” boom that has been evolving over the past few years, my bet is that every one of you have one, if not several, local breweries that deserve your time and taste buds. Find them, enjoy them, send me some. 🙂
Lucky old me, I’m blessed with one of the best breweries in my backyard. Flying Dog brewery out of Frederick, Maryland is the jam. If you get a chance to check any of their outstanding brews, do yourself that favor.
This isn’t a post about beer, although I could probably make every one of my posts about my favorite beverage, it’s a post about how a delicious brew makes a sweet treat, even sweeter.
There are two things that plague me in my culinary trials, tribulations and triumphs… tempering chocolate and making caramel. Seriously. Debacle. The flubs confound me. I follow the directions. I follow them meticulously. Inevitably – disaster.
But this here recipe my friends, I dare say, is fool proof.
The “beer extract” addition really puts these guys over the top. They are rich, creamy, salty, sweet, complex and delicious. Properly stored, they can last for ages – although there’s no chance they’ll stick around that long!
So find a local Pale Ale, read up on the brews that bless your area, and get to screaming at the pot to heat up already.
1 c + 1 c Pale Ale, I used Flying Dog Doggie Style Pale Ale
1 c salted pretzels, smashed
1 c light corn syrup
1/4 c honey
1 c sugar
1 c firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 t salt
1 c cream
1 c unsalted butter, softened
1 T pure vanilla extract
2 T Fleur de sel
1 roll of wax paper
In a small saucepan bring 1 cup of ale to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes. This transformation will happen instantly but will take the full time. It will turn into a syrup, about 1 teaspoon. Set aside.
Line a 9×9 inch pan with tin foil and spray with cooking spray. Put pretzels on foil and set aside.
Combine corn syrup, honey, both sugars and salt in a heavy five-quart pan set over medium heat. Attach a candy thermometer and stir occasionally with a wood spoon until the sugar has melted. Cook without stirring until temperature reads 305 degrees. As soon as it hits this temperature remove it from the heat.
While the syrup mixture is heating, place cream and remaining beer in a small saucepan over low heat, until just warm.
When the syrup has reached 305 degrees, add butter and stir to combine. Carefully stir in the cream and beer mixture.
Turn the heat back on to medium-high and continue stirring until the mixture is smooth. Allow the mixture to cook while stirring occasionally until the temperature reaches 248 degrees.
Turn off the heat, add vanilla and beer “extract” and stir until incorporated. Carefully pour the mixture over the prepared pretzel pan and allow to cool slightly.
Sprinkle liberally with Fleur de sel and leave to cool – preferably overnight.
Invert caramels onto a cutting board and remove foil. You will want to do this while they’re cold. Cut into desired size and wrap in parchment paper.
Keep caramels in a cool spot, or they’ll turn into a giant runny mess!