Saturday, December 17, 2011

Food Gift - Chai Tea Caramels

Here's another FOOD GIFT idea that has been a hit at my house. These Chai Tea Infused Caramels are full of the warm, slight peppery and cinnamon flavors of a cozy Chai Tea or Chai Tea Latte, but can be carried around for a quick nibble or snack.
Chai Tea Caramels

These can be made ahead of time because they keep for quite awhile, making them perfect for gifts, a party or travel snacks.

I sent a bunch of these into my husband's office a few months ago and I'm still famous for them. Haha :D
My teenage son's friends ask me about them every time they visit, and my mom loved the soft edible caramel that didn't stick or break her teeth.
Be sure to watch the temperature on these because (like a lot of candy making), sometimes it feels like the temperature will never move above 200F and then all of a sudden it zooms up and surprises you. If that happens, all is not lost, you'll just have harder caramels ( ala See's Candy type caramels.) For the softer, easy to chew caramels make sure you take it off the heat right at 248F. You'll love the toasty flavors of these addictive sweets, and your family and friends will be very complimentary and impressed that you made your own caramels.

If you don't have, or can't find a nice Chai Tea, try a different highly flavorful tea like a smokey black tea or a fruity berry Tisane (herbal) Tea.

Recipe: Chai Tea Caramels

2 cups Heavy Cream
3 Tablespoons Chai Tea
3/4 cup Agave Syrup (or 1 cup Corn Syrup)
2 cups Sugar
5 oz. (6 Tablespoons) Butter
1/4 cup Mild Molasses
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon Fresh Grated Nutmeg
Pinch of Cloves
Pinch of Pepper

***Prepare an 8" x 8" sided baking pan by spraying it, lining it with parchment paper (that hangs over a couple inches), and spraying the parchment.***

1) In a saucepan, bring the cream and tea to a simmer (but do not boil), take off the heat, cover and let the tea infuse the cream for about 10-15 minutes.

2) Strain the tea out, then in a larger saucepan add the tea infused cream to the Agave (or corn syrup), sugar, butter and molasses.

3) Bring to a boil, stir often and continue to boil until the mixture reaches 248F on a candy thermometer. This takes about 15-25 minutes.

4) Remove from the heat and stir in the salt, vanilla and spices.

5) Pour into the prepared pan and allow to sit overnight or about 12 hours.
6) Flip onto an oiled cutting board. Cut into 1 inch pieces and wrap in parchment paper squares or cellophane wrappers.These can last for several weeks if kept out of the heat or moisture.Give these in a filled mug, a decorative box, a party bag or maybe you have another idea. I'd love to have you share some ideas in the comments. Have a wonderful season and much love to you and yours from ShowFood Chef. :D

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