Hi everyone – hope you are all having a truly wonderful day and a week to boot!
If you have been following my personal blog over at Bread and Jam, you will know that I’ve been playing around with making caramels.
My first flavour that I tried was coconut – I didn’t want to start with something way out – I thought this would be a nice safe flavour to begin my adventure into making caramels. Instead of using cream I chose coconut milk and in the last stages I folded in some desiccated coconut for texture. I en-robed these in a milk chocolate and sprinkled some desiccated coconut on top. For a first attempt they came out pretty well.
With having some coconut milk left over, I decided to be a little bit more adventurous. I ferreted through my husband’s spice cupboard and found a block of tamarind – I love tamarind it has a delightful sourness to it (just thinking about it makes my mouth water – think sour worm gummy sweets!). I infused the coconut milk with the tamarind for an hour or so, ran the liquid through a sieve to remove the tamarind and then used this infusion instead of cream. Another flavour that works well with tamarind is peanut so I folded some chunky peanut butter through the caramel before pouring it out to set up. Again I chose to en-robe these in milk chocolate as I felt a dark chocolate would be a little overpowering.
Delighted with how the coconut and the tamarind caramels came out I chose to become a lot more adventurous with flavours. On our smallholding here in St. Helena Bay we grow lots of rosemary – this is a great plant for the semi-arid conditions that we have here on the West Coast of South Africa.
Some time ago I bought a very special book: The Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg. It’s a wonderful tool to have in your arsenal of cooking equipment – it gives you a level of confidence when choosing flavour combinations. With having decided to use rosemary I checked in the BOOK to see what pairs well and lo and behold – apricot and pine-nut – fabulous! I infused the cream with some rosemary and later in the process folded into the caramel small bits of dried but still plump Turkish apricots. Once the caramel had set up I en-robed in a 55% dark chocolate and topped each one with a tiny cube of apricot, a dried rosemary leaf and a toasted pine-nut.
I think we may have found our signature caramel – it’s tastes amazing. There is a hint of rosemary and little nuggets of soft apricot hidden in the depths of the chewy caramel.
Since this exploration into flavour I have played with a few more combinations, which I will add in due course to our Cookies, Sweet Treats & Wedding Favours page. These little squares of pure pleasure would make for ideal wedding favours or as a wonderful addition to the dessert table or even to have with an after dinner coffee or brandy.