Blood Orange Caramels

by Matt on February 10, 2010

If you heard a giant thud last week or a heavy sigh sift through your window then chances are it was me. I apologize for the interruption. You see, I just managed to wrap up two cookbook projects within the same week, a feat that has surprised even the most doubting me. I suppose this is what happens when you work with amazing people. They will forever have your back.

One book involved sandwiches, and boy, do I mean sandwiches. The other was a lovely vegan cookbook from a woman that is sometimes known as one half of the skinny bitch empire. Although I know the B word is used solely as empowerment it’s not a word I’d use to describe her. Sweet, funny, gentle, hot, yea, those words, anything but bitch. And I really can’t wait for this book to hit the stands as the recipes were ridiculously delicious. More about that in a few months.

On the last day of the shoot my dear friend Cindie (who is also an amazing food stylist) brought candy to the shoot. I have the world’s smallest sweet tooth (you wouldn’t know this from things that I enjoy making) and I don’t usually freak out over sweets. However, Cindie told me that she whipped up this recipe for Blood Orange Caramels because she needed something to do with the oranges. And when my pal Cindie says she needs something to do it’s best if you create a clear path and step aside. An exquisite crafter, a notorious organizer, a brilliant designer and gifted knitter (her dog Peanut proudly wears monogrammed sweaters, thankyouverymuch), Cindie is destined to create. I love that about her. Anyway, these caramels. Oh my god, these caramels. Soft and chewy, the initial stickiness gives way to buttery and tart citrus flavors before ending with tiny salty fireworks once the crystals have had time to dissolve on your tongue. The whole shebang ends with a crunch of the toasted nuts, and before long you realize these caramels have sent you over the edge with very distinct flavors all working together harmoniously.  I saved a few to take home to Adam and it was nothing but torture.

It turns out the other half reacted the same way I did. You have one and then you want another. You keep thinking about that citrus tang combined with those heavy caramelly flavors. I could stand it no longer. I grabbed my phone and texted her (I even used some harsh language, I don’t like the “kill” metaphor but I was exhausted and feeling dramatic, fyi). And being as wonderful as she always is she said yes! Have I stepped over some unwritten blogging etiquette rule by re-blogging about something she just did? I’m sure of it!  But you’ll just have to forgive me because I love these candies, damnit!

Cindie’s Blood Orange Caramels with Toasted Almonds and Sea Salt
Could you use regular oranges? Perhaps. I wouldn’t. Blood oranges are very special and I’m quite fond of them. And they are in season right now. Cindie says if you prefer a tart candy you can cut the brown sugar in half. I happen to think they were just perfect as written.

3 cups blood orange juice, strained
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup toasted almonds
2 teaspoons sea salt flakes

Line the bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish with parchment paper. Butter parchment paper and set aside.

Place blood orange juice in a 4-quart heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Let boil until liquid is reduced to 1/3 cup.

Remove from heat and stir in sugars, butter, and cream. Return to high heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Turn heat to medium and let boil until a candy or deep fat thermometer reads 248 degrees F (or when a half teaspoon placed in a glass of icy cold water turns into a firm, chewy ball), about 17 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Scatter almonds on bottom of parchment paper. Pour caramel over almonds. Let sit until cool and firm, about 2 hours. Remove from baking dish and sprinkle salt flakes over top. Cut into 1-inch pieces.

Thanks to Cindie and Denise over at Food Fanatics. You know I’m teaching another workshop with them at my studio in March, right? Make sure to click on over there if you’re interested.




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{ 124 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle May 8, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Thank you! Do you have any special meal, the full 9-yards, that you would reccomend? Or any recipes for greens?

Michelle May 11, 2010 at 10:02 am

Where do I buy sea salt flakes???????

Matt May 11, 2010 at 10:10 am

Hi Michelle! Check Dean & Deluca online as well as Zingermans. My favorite type is Murray River Flake Salt.

Kasia May 31, 2010 at 10:13 am

Hello Matt, just thought I’ll say hello from Poland. Thank you for those orange caramels. As we here in Central Europe do not have such an easy access to blood oranges, I’ve made caramels with regular, very sweet ones. They were great with fleur de sel. And here are some of my pictures and a story of your caramels. http://www.chillibite.pl/2010/05/pomaranczowe-karmelki-z-prazonymi.html
Regards Kasia

Gupari June 20, 2010 at 8:49 am

Hello Sir,

Is there any replacement for sea salt flakes , I meant any other salt is it make any different ? I never heard of sea salt flakes here in Indonesia. Please advice

Jenny July 25, 2010 at 9:56 am

I can’t believe how beautiful these are. During the holidays we make all different sorts of candies to send packages out to neighbors and friends, and these are definitely making the cut this year. YUM.
-Jenny
Kitchen Scales

forex robot August 24, 2010 at 9:49 am

nice post. thanks.

charles September 28, 2010 at 5:00 am

your photography is so clean and crisp- how do you take pics like these?? (food looks great too)

Kulsum at JourneyKitchen November 7, 2010 at 12:17 am

U knw this is incredible right?

pommiefoodie November 15, 2010 at 5:07 pm

Help! I have the blood oranges right here but I don’t know how much a stick of butter is? According to the net it can be either 2 ounces or 4 ounces? Please advise asap!!

Bryn December 7, 2010 at 1:42 pm

I have wanted to try this recipe ever since I saw it back in June, but I can’t for the life of me find a store that sells blood oranges or blood orange juice. And online it seems you have to order a minimum of three bottles. Trader Joes says they sell a Blood Orange soda. What do you think? If I leave it out to get flat, will it work?

Karen January 14, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Oh my, you are so going to get me an A in my Pastry & Plated Dessert Class! YUM!

Lillbet February 22, 2011 at 9:08 am

Just got a bag of blood oranges at the grocery store and while I love eating them one by one, this is just the thing to challenge me and try something new. Thanks!

TheGourmetCoffeeGuy March 9, 2011 at 8:49 pm

My family loves eating blood oranges. Have never made orange caramels but your recipe is very enticing. Thank you for sharing. Will be an interesting new culinary experience.

memur March 10, 2011 at 4:49 pm

i really like orange color. everthing about that always smiles me :) thanks matt. good night from Turkey

Paul @ Ice Cream Maker Reviews May 22, 2011 at 8:15 am

I can’t find blood oranges anywhere. In the supermarkets they look at me funny when I ask. Even the fruit and veg markets don’t have any. I’m like a dog with a bone trying to taste these! And I won’t rest until I do so.

Moe June 11, 2011 at 7:08 pm

That looks beautiful. I’m amazed it maintained its rich color. I seldom see blood orange in the market up here. I’m not sure if it is just not a popular item or if the season is really short. I always consider them a special treat. Now they really are!

personel alımı June 12, 2011 at 8:00 am

good, very very thanks from Germany

memurlar August 20, 2011 at 2:44 am

thanks man. i love caramels

Albert Zino September 26, 2011 at 1:38 am

Wow……
yummy……..

Aquascoop October 15, 2011 at 4:19 am

If you heard a giant thud last week or a heavy sigh sift through your window then chances are it was me. I apologize for the interruption. You see, I just managed to wrap up two cookbook projects within the same week, a feat that has surprised even the most doubting me.

Adeline June 5, 2012 at 7:40 pm

Hello! This recipe looks just amazing…only that I live in Mexico and I’ve never seen some blood oranges here… Do you think I could replace it by pink pineapple???
Thanks!

SavorThis August 1, 2012 at 10:14 pm

I came upon this post looking for any sort of caramel made from fruit juice as I had a huge bag of peaches from a friend’s tree. I was a little worried about the thickness of the peach juice, but these turned out great. The almonds were a perfect pairing too. I definitely want to try the blood orange, but in the event anyone has a windfall of peaches, they work amazingly well. Thanks!

August January 1, 2013 at 8:26 am

Hi Matt. These caramels look fabulous! I made them yesterday, but I had a little bit of trouble… Once I reduced my juice, it had a nice, strong flavor, but it was a little bitter (it was the kind of bitter that you don’t taste until it’s suddenly on the back of your tongue). Is it supposed to taste that way? Also, when I mixed my concentrate, sugars. butter, and cream, heated it to boiling and then turned the temperature down, both my thermometers were jumping to 248 and then going way over that. Now, I checked both thermometers by checking the temp. of boiling water (212 degrees F) and one thermometer was off by one degree and the other was fine. Do you know what could have happened? Sorry I can’t do your fabulous recipe justice! Thanks for any advice you can offer.

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