I’m not really sure why but a week ago I decided to make caramels. The thought just popped into my head and it wouldn’t leave until I put butter and sugar together in a saucepan. Did I have a candy thermomenter? No! Did I have free time? No! Did I have butter and sugar? Obviously. So I was more than halfway there.
I also had four grapefruits that I bought on a whim, imagining I would eat them in a morning to get a healthy energy boost before class. Then I realized that was a fantasy and that breakfast for me was a spoonful of peanut butter eaten on the go.
But just because these grapefruits weren’t going to give me some Vitamin C in the morning didn’t mean they were useless. In fact they had a much nobler purpose–and here we arrive at grapefruit caramels.
I’ve never been a huge fan of citrus desserts, possibly because I’ll always go for something creamy or chocolately over something fruit-y. Sorbet instead of ice cream? Psh. Don’t be ridiculous.
But citrus with caramel is a whole nother ball game. The tart grapefruit cuts the richness of the caramel and makes it more sophisticated. Plus you wrap them in parchment paper squares and twist the ends, making cute little packages that feel right out of a Martha Stewart magazine. And people go ga-ga over them. Just ask my housemates.
If you ever want to impress someone, or just feel extremely accomplished, and you have thirty minutes these caramels are the ticket. With just butter, sugar, cream, and grapefruit you get something so utterly chewy, sweet, tart and delicious it’s kind of ridiculous. Ly awesome.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
- 4 grapefruits, or 2 cups of grapefruit juice
- 1 tablespoon grapefruit zest
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into chunks
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- Neutral oil for the knife
Boil the grapefruit juice in a 3-4 quart saucepan over high heat for 30ish minutes, until it has been reduced to about 1/3 cup of syrup.
Line the bottom of an 8×8-inch pan with two sheets of crisscrossed parchment paper.
Once you have finished reducing the grapefruit juice, stir in the butter, sugars, zest and cream. Let it boil until candy thermometer registers 252 degrees farenheit. I did not have a candy thermometer due to being a cheap college student, so I boiled it about five minutes and did the soft ball test. Have a bowl of very cold water next to stove, and after five minutes drop a spoonful of caramel into it. If it becomes firm, chewy, and able to be plied into a ball your caramel is ready. KEEP AN EYE ON IT!
Immediately remove caramel from heat, add the salt, and pour mixture into prepared pan. Let it cool until slightly firm, about 2 hours at room temperature or an hour in the fridge. Once cooled, transfer caramel and parchment paper to a cutting board. Oil knife before each cut (definitely necessary!) and cut caramels into 64 1-inch squares. Wrap each in a 4-inch square of parchment paper, twisting the sides to close.
Keep refrigerated for firmer caramels (how I preferred them), or at room temp for chewier ones.
P.S. keep an eye out for more caramel variations! On the to-do list: beer-pretzel and cayenne pepper.