Friday, October 21, 2005

SHF#13: The Dark Side - Dark Chocolate Caramel

Shhh. Don't tell anyone. I'm gonna let you in on a secret. You know when I bake something with chocolate in it, I usually excuse myself with something like: "I substituted the dark chocolate for milk chocolate, because that's how Martin wants his cakes/cookies/desserts"? It's not entirely true. I mean, it is sort of true - that is how Martin wants it. But, admittedly - it's probably also how I like it best. Just throw your chocolate wrappers at me - I like my chocolate creamy, sweet and vanilla-y, without the hint of bitterness I sometimes find in the dark variety. And I have tried the more expensive ones, the cheap ones, the in between ones. Really, I've tried. It's chocolate after all, how come I can't turn around and like it??

Then again. That's also only partly the truth. You see, I tend to fare better if the dark chocolate has been melted, and then incorporated into the sweet. And, as I'm slowly getting older, there are certain items where there is just no way I'd substitute milk chocolate for the dark one. There are certain dark chocolates I'd happily eat, like the Kehlet chocolates with a mint cream filling my Dad used to buy me when I was a kid - or Skildpadder, one of my vices - a turtle-shaped dark chocolate exterior, filled with a rum and caramel filling. It's good I'm telling you. So I wasn't completely lost when Kelli from Lovescool - For The Love of Desserts announced the 13th. edition of SHF with the theme: The Dark Side.

Oh, and by the way - happy birthday SHF! A whole year of wonderful desserts, sweets, cakes and other goodies - may there be many more! Guess I was a wee bit fast on the congratulations in my last entry - the first ever SHF was held on October 1st., with a theme of White Chocolate - I was SO there, and wouldn't want to miss this edition, making something with dark chocolate. In fact, making something from the exact same author as for my 1st. SHF. This time, it's Dark Chocolate Caramels. I told you, it had to be melted, didn't it? There's just something about larger pieces of solid dark chocolate that doesn't go well with me.

And it's easy as pie to do.

Dark Chocolate Caramels - from Morten Heiberg: Heiberg's Chokolade

200 g. dark chocolate (70% - I used Lindt Ecuador)
100 ml. whipping cream
125 g. sugar
100 g. glucose
(And I added a pinch of salt)

Prepare a baking sheet - either line it with silpat or brush it lightly with a neutral vegetable oil (I used almond oil) I used a brownie pan because I wanted the caramels to come out thick (cube sized almost), but do as you please. If you leave them thin, they're probably easier to cut up later on.

Finely chop the chocolate. In a medium saucepan, combine cream, sugar and glucose. Bring to the boil. As it starts boiling, turn it down, then add the chocolate, stirring to make it melt. Let it simmer while constantly stirring - the mixture has to reach a temperature of 120 degrees celsius - use a sugar thermometer for checking the temperature. When it's hot enough, quickly pour it out onto the prepared baking sheet.

Leave to cool for 12 hours - preferably not in the fridge, as that's too cold and will probably make for a grey appearance of the chocolate.

When you're confident the caramel is all set, cut it up, using a serrated knife or, if you've made it thin enough, with a pair of scissors. Keep somewhere cool in an airtight jar.

I have to admit, I really like these. They are a bit more bitter than what I'd usually like, but the chocolate I used have a hint of coffee to it, so I'm thinking coffee rather than just bitterness. Chewy and wonderfully dark in taste. Probably not fit for kids - and probably not for Martin either. But that just means more for me, heh!

Thanks for making me challenge my palate with a great theme Kelli!


Nic said...

The caramels do sound delicious, Zarah. I like dark chocolate, but people seem to mistake bitterness for quality. You can get excellent chocolate in milk or dark and in any cacao content. I'll take both kinds, I think!
I know that you could substitute milk chocolate in the mousse that I made for my SHF entry. Actually, it might be even better.

Stephanie said... evil temptress, you!

I'm making a list of all the candies I want to make for Christmas, and thanks a lot...I've just added another to it!

Seriously; they look fantastic.

Clare Eats said...

oh they look sooooo good!

I have found they more I have dark chocolate the more I am not satisifed with milk chocolate..... it has taken awhile though

Cathy said...

Ohhh, these look incredible!

I'm not familiar with glucose as a cooking ingredient. I looked around on the web and found a listing for dextrose, which says dextrose and glucose are the same thing. Apparently dextrose is a little less sweet than cane sugar. Is what you used granulated or liquid? Do you know if dextrose is the same thing?

Julie said...

Zarah! Yay, you're back. I hope the move went well and that you're happily ensconced in your new home.

These caramels are just my kind of candy. I love dark chocolate, no reservations -- and I adore anything chewy. So this is going to get made in my house, for sure.

Mona said...

I must admit, I'm a dark chocolate snob myself. Prefer the dark to the milk ANYDAY:)

Alice said...

I adore the combination of chocolate and caramel!!! So, so good! And I'm so glad you returned to your "original source" too!

Zarah Maria said...

Nic - Uh, milk chocolate in your SHF entry? It suddenly sounds much more appealing than before, although it alreadu sounded yummy! We have the loveliest thick, Greek style yoghurt here, made from Jersey cow milk... Must try it!

Stephanie - WOULD YOU STOP WITH THE CHRISTMAS PLANNING ALREADY!!!:-) No, honestly - I'm amazed at how you all seem so well planned when it comes to Christmas goodies. Mine is more like: oh wait, I have time for making that, so I'll do it, if I have the ingredients already in the kitchen, lol! Let me know what you think if you give them a try!

Clare - well, the dark chocolate is growing on me, but I'm still very much into the milky version.

Cathy - I had a sneaking feeling there might be some questions about the glucose-bit - how cool is it that you just jump out into the web to find info! Kudos to you!
Anyways - it's used to make sure the candy doesn't go grainy - if you used all sugar, that's what would happen. The kind I used was sort of liquid, like a hard-set honey, and transparent (sp?) Tastewise, it's definitely not as sweet as sugar (or honey for that matter), but whether it's the same as dextrose I don't know. Here's a couple of links I found: What is it?
Comparison to corn syrup
Any wheat in it? (okay, so I've been reading Shauna's blog a lot lately!:-))
Why use glucose syrup instead of sugar?

Julie - the new place is gorgeous, I can't wait to show you all! And yup, I'm sure these will be right up your alley!

Mona - that's fine with me, just means more milk chocolate for me!;-)

Alice - we just had to, didn't we?;-)

T said...

I tend to like milk chocolate over dark, but these sound great. Im sure the sweetness of the caramel nicely compensated for the bitterness of the dark chocolate.

Zarah Maria said...

Psst, Tanvi? The author actually says you can substitute the dark chocolate with milk chocolate - just use 170 grams of 40% chocolate, and proceed as above. I'll have to try that one too, but don't tell anyone...:-)

T said...

Thats brillant! OK, you've just given me one more reason to make this. Dont worry, I wont tell anyone ;-)

chronicler said...

Zarah. What a lovely entry. This year I am doing a bunch of homemade treats for gifts at the holidays. Your recipe will be included! Thanks!

Ana said...

Those caramels sound so good! In my old age I prefer a sweeter chocolate, so the 70%'s just don't cut it, no matter how good. About two or three months ago I bought a 99% dark chocolate. It is small, about 2 oz., maybe. It is from Valhrona. I look at it just about every day but did not open it yet.

tara said...

Oh my, these are lovely. And as much as I can admit that I'm a snob when it comes to my dark ... I will still proudly admit that I love chocolate in all its forms. Each has its own merits, I would say - and a mood that suits each!

Stephanie said...

I can't help it!

I've already planned both my Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, and begun lists of cookies and candies to make for the holidays.

One, I'm a planner. And two? As sick as I got last year, right before Christmas, I'm determined not to be left cookie/candy-less this time!

keiko said...

Zarah, I love the dark colour, it must taste gorgeous too!

s.j.simon said...

lol. did you know that chocolate was banned in switzerland for many years. read this