Chocolate Covered Crispy Butterscotch Caramels

Take a chewy, rich butterscotch caramel, mix in some Rice Krispies cereal for a bit of crunch, slather on a thick, smooth, dark chocolate ganache, sprinkle a little sea salt on top, and voila, you’ve just been introduced to the perfect little candy, Chocolate Covered Crispy Butterscotch Caramels.  The trickiest parts of this recipe are 1) making sure the caramel gets to the correct temperature (a bit of patience and vigilant attention are needed) and 2) waiting a few hours for the chocolate ganache to firm up so that you can cut the caramels into squares.  So, if you have a bit of patience and a candy thermometer, get to it!  You won’t be disappointed.

The Maldon sea salt I used created little crater-like designs on the chocolate ganache.  And the crater-like surface of the caramel is due to the rice krispies.

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Chocolate Covered Crispy Butterscotch Caramels

Makes 48 pieces
(from Abigail Johnson Dodge’s Mini Treats & Hand-Held Sweets)
My notes are in [   ] below.

Ingredients

Caramel-Puffed Rice Layer

12 tablespoons (6 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces + 2 tablespoons, softened, for greasing the foil
1 1⁄3 cups (9 1/4 ounces) firmly packed dark brown sugar
3⁄4 cup heavy cream
1⁄2 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup [light corn syrup also works]
1 1⁄2 cups puffed rice cereal [rice krispies]
1 1⁄2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1⁄4 teaspoon table salt

Chocolate Ganache

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped [I like to used Trader Joes dark chocolate bar]
1 tablespoon vegetable oil [I used canola oil.]

Directions

Make the Caramel-Puffed Rice Layer

  1. Line an 8-inch-square baking pan (the straight-sided kind) with foil, leaving about a 1-inch overhang on two sides. Generously grease the bottom and sides of the foil with the 2 tablespoons of softened butter (cooking spray works, too).  [I prefer to line the pan with parchment which works equally as well as foil, and parchment doesn’t need to be buttered.  Just make sure you use enough parchment so that it overhangs two sides by an inch or so.]  
  2. Put the remaining butter, brown sugar, heavy cream, and golden syrup in a large heavy saucepan. Cook, without stirring, over low heat until the butter is melted, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium high and bring to a boil. Boil, without stirring, until a candy thermometer registers 250°F, about 5 minutes.  [It took longer than 5 minutes for my caramel to reach 250°F, so keep a close eye on the caramel during this step.]
  3. Slide the pan from the heat and add the puffed rice, vanilla, and salt. Be careful—the mixture will bubble up, and the steam is super hot. Using a heatproof spatula, stir, without scraping the bottom and sides, until blended.
  4. Pour the crispy caramel, without scraping the bottom or sides of the saucepan, into the prepared baking pan. Set aside to cool until warm to the touch, about 45 minutes.

Make the Ganache

  1. Melt the chocolate and oil in a small heatproof bowl (you can use the microwave or an improvised double boiler).  [I used the microwave and melted the chocolate in 20-30 second increments to ensure that the chocolate would not burn.]
  2. Whisk until well blended and smooth.
  3. Pour the melted chocolate over the still-warm caramel. Using an offset spatula, spread the ganache evenly.
  4. Set aside to cool completely, about 4 hours. [It took longer than 4 hours for my ganache layer to cool and firm up enough to cut cleanly.  You can refrigerate the caramels to harden the chocolate more quickly, but don’t cut the caramels when they’re cold because the chocolate will crack and separate from the caramel layer.]

Finish the Caramel

  1. Use the foil [or parchment] “handles” to lift the entire caramel from the pan. Carefully peel or tear away the foil [or parchment] and discard; set the caramel, chocolate side up, on a cutting board.
  2. Grease the blade of a long, sharp knife with butter or cooking spray and, using a ruler as a guide (or by eye), cut crosswise into 8 equal strips and then cut each strip into 6 pieces.
  3. Serve immediately or wrap in small pieces of waxed paper or cellophane (2 3⁄4-inch squares are the perfect size). Serve in mini cupcake wrappers, if you like.  [I prefer to serve my caramels in mini cupcake wrappers.]  

Note: The caramels can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one month.

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