BENJAMIN ODDO IS CHEF PÂTISSIER AT L’ATELIER DE JOËL ROBUCHON IN MONTRÉAL
THESE CARAMELS ARE SO EASY TO MAKE, and they’re always a hit with my family at the holidays, when I like adding them to our family’s sweets and desserts platters. They also make wonderful party favours and gifts for friends, and if you have young children, as I do, for their teachers. My daughter Blanche is particularly fond of wrapping the caramels, but a lot of them disappear in the process. This easy recipe is a great way to introduce your kids to the joys of cooking. For a citrusy variation, check out the video below for Mandarin caramels. — Benjamin Oddo
- 800 g (31⁄2 cups) whipping cream
- 2 vanilla pods, scraped
- 33 g (3 tbsp) fleur de sel de Guérande
- 400 g (11⁄4 cups) glucose syrup
- 1 kg (5 cups) granulated sugar
- 400 g (14 oz) butter
- In a saucepan, combine the fresh cream and vanilla beans (pods and seeds) and bring to a boil on medium heat. Remove from heat and let steep for 30 minutes.
- Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl and set aside (discard solids).
- Reserve 3 g (1 tsp) fleur de sel and add the rest to the vanilla cream.
- Reheat on low and stir until salt is dissolved. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, lightly butter a 40.5 cm x 30.5 cm (16” x 12”) baking sheet. Combine glucose syrup and 80 ml (1⁄3 cup) water in a saucepan on low.
- Add the sugar, raise heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring, until sugar begins to caramelize and its temperature reaches 166°C (331°F).
- Remove from heat but leave the candy thermometer in place. Carefully add the vanilla cream and then the butter, but do not stir.
- When the temperature drops to 125°C (257°F), pour the caramel onto the greased baking sheet. Wait a few minutes and then evenly sprinkle the reserved fleur de sel over the caramel.
- Set aside for 24 hours, then cut the caramel into 3 cm x 1.5 cm (about 11⁄4” x 3⁄4”) pieces.
- Wrap each individually.
To make the mandarin-flavoured caramels–as in the video–proceed as in the base recipe for salted caramels but with the following changes:
Instead of infusing the cream with vanilla follow the same procedure with 9 g of mandarin zest. Do not add salt to the flavoured cream. Instead, when adding cream to the caramelising sugar, add 445 g of mandarin purée along with the butter, and incorporate thoroughly.
L’ATELIER DE JOËL ROBUCHON might be the closest thing to a classic French Michelin-starred restaurant we have in Canada. The menu is full of sophisticated Robuchon classics, sometimes with a Quebec-ingredient-forward touch: local foie gras au torchon, bison tartare with truffles, lacquered duck with maple sap, the famous Robuchon potato purée with loads of butter. The flavours are rich, and creativity is high but never disconcerting. Walk across the Casino de Montréal to get there and you feel you’ve crossed over into another civilization.