Baking has been a part of my holiday season for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I’d spend that magical week off of school the week before Christmas in the kitchen with my siblings and my mom. We baked lots of cookies and molded chocolates. It was awesome, and left me with a number of recipes that are essential for my holiday to feel just right. Changing our diets to be more healthy has resulted in less baking the past few years. Last year, I made just one thing – a new recipe I stumbled upon while looking for something to change it up. By request from a few fine people on twitter, I bring you:

Fleur de Sel Dark Chocolate Caramels

photo by Romulo Yanes for Epicurious.com

What You Need:
2 cups heavy cream
10 1/2 ounces high-quality bittersweet chocolate (go for 72% cacao)
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 teaspoons flaky sea salt
vegetable oil for greasing

How to Make It:
1. Line bottom and sides of an 8-inch straight-sided square metal baking pan with 2 long sheets of crisscrossed parchment.

2. Bring cream just to a boil in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan over moderately high heat, then reduce heat to low and add chocolate. Let stand 1 minute, then stir until chocolate is completely melted. Remove from heat.

3. Bring sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt to a boil in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil, uncovered, without stirring but gently swirling pan occasionally, until sugar is deep golden, about 10 minutes.

4. Tilt pan and carefully pour in chocolate mixture (mixture will bubble and steam vigorously). Continue to boil over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until mixture registers 255°F on thermometer, about 15 minutes.

5. Add butter, stirring until completely melted, then immediately pour into lined baking pan (do not scrape any caramel clinging to bottom or side of saucepan).

6. Let caramel stand 10 minutes, then sprinkle evenly with sea salt. Cool completely in pan on a rack, about 2 hours.

7. Carefully invert caramel onto a clean, dry cutting board, then peel off parchment. Turn caramel salt side up. Lightly oil blade of a large heavy knife and cut into 1-inch squares.

(If you make a double batch, and wrap them individually, and split them amongst a bunch of tiny boxes, presto – Christmas gifts for EVERYONE. And they fit in your carry-on. You’re welcome.)

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