Fleur de Sel Caramels

One of my new year's resolutions this year was to exercise more so this week I spent some quality time at the gym taking classes like Zumba and Power Tone. I also learned there is such a thing as overdoing it (note to self: just because you took two months off from the gym does not mean you can jump right back in like nothing happened).

The next morning I was a hurt bag of hurt. Muscles I didn't even know existed called out for help. I can't move without pain and agony. My legs don't bend, my arms have a range of motion of about 3 inches, and my chest feels like its going to fall off (just fall off). I crawl out of chairs with the speed and agility of a 90 year old woman. I even managed to strain my neck muscles. Who strains neck muscles doing sit-ups?

I almost wish I had a bruise the size of my fist so I could point to it as if to say look how tough I amโ€”my own purple badge of courage. Instead, I get to whine and groan while moving around like a rusted machine. My advice to you this week is to start slow if you are just beginning an exercise regime and then build your way up. There is no sense in working yourself too hard, causing yourself enough pain that you will be wary to return. Trust me, it will be tough enough dragging my sorry butt back to the gym tomorrow (though these caramels have certainly cushioned the blow).

These fleur de sel caramels are soft, sticky, and divine. The salt adds just the right twist to keep these caramels from becoming too sweetโ€”the perfect sweet and salty combination, if you will. By eating one or two, you can satisfy your sweet tooth without spoiling your diet. This recipe just begs to be shared.

Fleur de Sel Caramels
Adapted from Ina Garten

Yields approximately 50 caramels

This recipe can be easily halved.

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3 cups heavy cream
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon fleur de sel (flaked sea salt), plus extra for sprinkling
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Line the bottom of a 9 by 13 inch baking pan with parchment, allowing the parchment to drape over 2 ends (for easy removal). Lightly oil the parchment paper.

In a very large saucepan (the size of a big soup pot), place the sugar, corn syrup, and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Do not stir! Keep boiling until the caramel is golden brown in color. Watch closely so it does not burn.

In a large saucepan, combine the cream and butter. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, and set aside.

As soon as the caramel is a warm golden brown, slowly add the cream mixture. It will boil up violently. If it threatens to boil over, stop adding the cream mixture, allow the caramel to settle down and add the rest. With a wooden spoon, stir in the fleur de sel and vanilla extract.

Using a candy thermometer, cook the caramel over medium heat until it reaches a temperature of 248 degrees F (firm ball stage), between 5 and 10 minutes.

Very carefully pour the caramel in the prepared pan and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Once firm, flip the caramel onto a cutting board and slowly peel back the parchment paper. Cut the caramel into 2 inch strips widthwise. Take each strip and roll up the long side until you have a long caramel log. Cut the caramels into 1 inch segments. Repeat this process for the rest of the caramel strips.

Sprinkle fleur de sel on top of the caramels to taste.

You can choose to wrap the caramels individually in parchment paper or store them in an airtight container. Keep refrigerated for firm caramels or at room temperature for soft caramels