Beer & Pretzels Caramels

I’ve made so many variations of caramels that it’s about time that I experiment with beer caramels.  Typically, the smell and flavor of beer is a bit too strong for my taste, so I started out conservatively by using a pale ale with a somewhat intimidating name and label (New Belgium Voodoo Ranger) but seemingly less aggressive flavors of citrus and tropical fruit from eight hops and low bitterness.  The end result was a caramel with a hint of citrus and fruitiness and a slight dryness in taste.  You can definitely taste the beer, especially at the end, but the caramel flavor still shines through.  I layered mini pretzels on top since I’ve been told that pretzels go well with beer, and they provide a good textural contrast and a bit of saltiness.

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Beer & Pretzels Caramels

Makes 80 pieces of caramel (depending on size.  I like to cut them small as these are packed with flavor)
(from Craftbeer.com)

Ingredients

2 cups brown sugar
2 sticks butter
1 cup corn syrup
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 12 oz. bottle of your favorite beer (pale ales work well)
Sea salt
Pretzels (I used mini pretzels)

Directions

  1. Line a 9×13 inch pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan with high sides, melt butter and brown sugar over medium heat until well combined.
  3. Slowly add beer and corn syrup, and stir well.
  4. Add the sweetened condensed milk, and keep stirring constantly.  Be careful as the mixture will bubble up quite a bit.
  5. Cook caramels to 244-246°F.  This can take up to 20-30 minutes.  Do not stop stirring once the sweetened condensed milk is added or the caramel will burn.
  6. Once the caramel reaches you reach 244-246°F, remove it from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
  7. Pour the caramel into the prepared pan.
  8. Sprinkle a light layer of sea salt on top of hot caramels.  Use less sea salt if you’re also including salted pretzels.
  9. Lay the pretzels on top of the warm caramel.
  10. Let the caramel set until firm enough to cut.  I used the refrigerator to help speed up the cooling process.

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