Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels No corn syrup recipe!

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with Truvia®. Recipes and ideas are my own.

The last of the Halloween decorations made their way back into the garage this week. The hold outs were the two trick or treat buckets still filled with candy that were slow to empty. Of course, all the good stuff went immediately. And when I say that I mean that my husband and I ate a good portion of the better candy immediately after the kids went to bed. Then there were the thousands of lollipops, off brand candy, and miscellaneous stuff thrown into the buckets that hung around too long. So those got chucked and the buckets, to my children’s surprise, mysteriously disappeared along with all the rest of the decorations by morning.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comThis holiday always symbolizes quantity over quality, and while I type that out I feel like that’s a lot of holidays now. So that got me thinking about how I can make some little changes for the remainder of the holidays this year to show quality, and thoughtfulness, in the gifts given to others. And for me, one way I like to show that is with handmade gifts.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comI’ve teamed up with Truvia® to craft some special holiday treats that can be used for hostess gifts, stocking stuffers, welcome gifts for out of town guests, or a special treat for someone “just because.” I feel like there’s always someone in your life who could use a little treat for that very reason. I come from a family who are makers. On both sides there are artisans, farmers, photographers, builders, crafters, seamstresses, and my grandfather and uncles can build a classic car from the ground up. Making something, crafting it with your hands, and sharing it with others is very important to me. But you don’t have to build a car. In fact, today I’m making caramels.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comBourbon caramels! Quality treats, but for adults only. These little packages of deliciousness come together fairly quickly but require some stirring and a watchful eye. The hardest part is waiting overnight for them to set. The sweetness comes from Truvia Brown Sugar Blend, a blend of stevia sweetener (the sweet leaves of the stevia plant) and brown sugar, for 75% fewer calories per serving than regular brown sugar. You still get that deep, rich caramel flavor that brown sugar imparts, and the bourbon not only adds a little kick, but it also brings its own vanilla and spice flavors to the caramels.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comSo I think it’s time to get in the kitchen and make some treats!

A few notes on making the caramels:

  • Yes, there’s not a lot of volume here, but trust me, you will need a larger pot than you think for when the mixture boils later. Once the dairy is added it boils up but that’s normal!
  • Cream of tartar! Why is it here? Good question! Because corn syrup is not used in this recipe as it is in most caramel recipes, we need something to inhibit the formation of sugar crystals. Corn syrup is an invert sugar that does just that (honey is as well and sometimes you will see recipes call for that but I’ve heard conflicting opinions on how well it works) but cream of tartar introduces an acid to the mix that also will help inhibit those sugar crystals to form and give a smooth texture to your caramel.
  • Since we’re using Brown Sugar Blend it will be hard to tell when the mixture has started to burn, other than smelling it and you don’t want to get to that point. The last 50°  when waiting for your mixture to hit 350° goes rather quickly (getting to 300° usually takes awhile) so stay nearby watching the thermometer or using an instant read thermometer with an alarm for when it reaches temperature.
  • This is a bourbon forward recipe. Feel free to cut back to a 1/2 ounce for a more subtle flavor.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comBourbon Salted Caramels

Adapted from Busy in Brooklyn

2 cups Truvia Brown Sugar Blend
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup water
1/3 cup heavy cream, room temperature
3 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ounce bourbon of your choice
3/4 teaspoon flakey sea salt

Line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper so that the paper comes up the sides of the pan.

In a large pot, combine the Brown Sugar Blend, cream of tartar and water and set over low heat. Whisk continuously until the sugar dissolves completely, around 5-8 minutes. If sugar crystals appear above the surface of the syrup, wipe down the sides of the pot with a damp pastry brush (I keep a bowl of water nearby with a silicone pastry brush).

When the Brown Sugar Blend dissolves, clip an instant-read thermometer to the side of the pan so that the heat sensor is immersed in the sugar (if using a thermometer with a wire string, do not immerse the string). Raise the heat to medium-high and bring the syrup to a boil, whisking until bubbles begin to form, then stop stirring. Continue cooking the Brown Sugar Blend without stirring, brushing down the sides of pot if crystals form.

When the syrup reaches 350°F (this took about 20 minutes for me) remove it immediately from the heat and add in the heavy cream and butter. The mixture will start to bubble up at this point so use caution.

When the mixture settles, stir with a silicone spatula until smooth. Return the pot to the stove and boil until the mixture reaches 248°, around 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat, add the bourbon and salt, stir to combine.

Pour the caramel into the parchment-lined pan and bang it on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Let the caramels set for 6 hours, or overnight, in a cool, dry place.

Once set, caramels can be cut out to desired shapes and wrapped in parchment paper. Will keep at room temperature for up to two weeks.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.com

Fall Feelings Boozy Round Up 16 boozy ways to get in the fall spirit!

Put out some decorative gourds and make some cocktails! It finally feels like fall!The Apple-groni Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Apple-groni Cocktail

Apple Elixir Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Apple Elixir Cocktail

Caramel Apple Jellies with Everclear // stirandstrain.com

Caramel Apple Jellies

Sparkling Apple Sherry Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Sparkling Apple Sherry Cocktail

Apple Appetizers Three Ways with 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé // stirandstrain.com

Pairing Rosé with Apples

Make It: Black Licorice and Amaro Bat Jellies for Halloween // stirandstrain.com

Black Licorice and Amaro Bat Jellies

The Negroni Nero Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

The Negroni Nero

The Private Club Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Private Club Cocktail

Whiskey Round the World Cocktail with Cask and Crew Walnut Toffee Whiskey // stirandstrain.com

Whiskey Round the World

The Toasty Russian Cocktail with homemade toasted coconut milk // stirandstrain.com

The Toasty Russian

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.com

Pumpkin Spice Coffee Old Fashioned

Spiced Pumpkin Bourbon // stirandstrain.com

Spiced Pumpkin Bourbon

Crustafied, a rye whiskey variation on the Brandy Crusta // stirandstrain.com

Crustafied Whiskey Sour

Vanilla Bourbon Caramel Sauce // stirandstrain.com

Vanilla Bourbon Caramel Sauce

The Royal Affliction Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

The Royal Affliction

Low Rent Cocktail of the Month: Fanta of the Opera & Fanta of the Paradise // stirandstrain.com

Fanta of the Opera & Fanta of the Paradise Cocktails

Caramel Apple Jellies the cocktail you eat!

Caramel Apple Jellies with Everclear // stirandstrain.comThis post is brought to you by Everclear. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Ok everyone! Are you ready to start talking holiday entertaining? No? Wasn’t it just August?

Caramel Apple Jellies with Everclear // stirandstrain.comI’d say it feels that way except for this mountain of apples on my counter and the JUG of apple cider I decided was an economic buy this week. Why don’t they ever sell cider in small containers? However, I’m actually happy to have it around because it really is time to start thinking about holiday parties and batching drinks and well, making things with apple cider.

Caramel Apple Jellies with Everclear // stirandstrain.comAre you the person tasked every year with bringing the drinks to the party? I am. Regardless of whether I am going to a friend’s house or a relatives house, if I don’t show up with some sort of boozy concoction it’s as if I killed Rudolph and used him for the Thanksgiving Turkey. I mean, I get a lot of shade thrown at me and very raised eyebrows.

Caramel Apple Jellies with Everclear // stirandstrain.comThis year for the earlier Fall parties I have a new trick up my sleeve. Instead of the vast caldrons of spiked apple cider I usually inflict upon people, I’ve downsized the drink. Actually, I made the drink edible and it fits in the palm of your hand. Neat, huh?

Caramel Apple Jellies with Everclear // stirandstrain.comEdible cocktails have appeared a few times on this site and I stand by them as completely appropriate party “drinks”. To get in the festive Fall spirit we’re using up some of those apples you all probably have piled on your counter and, of course, that jug of apple cider. The booze portion is courtesy of Everclear. As part of their Make It Your Own campaign we’re elevating the edible cocktail into a fantastic fusion of apples, cinnamon, and rich caramel sauce. OH yeah. Caramel sauce.

Caramel Apple Jellies with Everclear // stirandstrain.comI made a small batch of my own caramel sauce but store bought is completely acceptable. I’ve linked to a favorite recipe of mine below if you feel up to making it from scratch (plus, if you do, it takes less than 20 minutes and tastes SO DANG GOOD).

The recipe for making these jellies easily doubles or triples depending on the size of your crowd. You can make it your own by customizing how you serve these. I hollowed out apple halves and sliced those after the jellies set (cute, right?), but you also have the option of using a mold and then popping them out to serve on their own.

Caramel Apple Jellies with Everclear // stirandstrain.comSo at your next pumpkin carving/Fall party/barn raising this season, show up with a tray of these Caramel Apple Jellies instead of the usual spiked cider and you will be cheered. Believe me, no one is going to miss it when they’re scarfing down these goodies.

Caramel Apple Jellies with Everclear // stirandstrain.com

Caramel Apple Jellies (approximately 35-38 proof)

4 ounces apple cider
1 packet of gelatine
2 ounces near boiling water
2 ounces Everclear
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 ounce (or 2 tablespoons) salted caramel sauce (Dessert for Two has my go-to recipe)

  1. In a large mixing glass with a spout, pour in apple cider. Sprinkle gelatine over the liquid and let it sit for 5 minutes to bloom. Then pour in near boiling water and whisk to combine. Add Everclear, cinnamon and salted caramel sauce and stir. Pour into cored apple halves or molds and let sit refrigerated for 6 hours or overnight.
  2. To remove jellies from semi-spherical molds, carefully run a small spoon around the edge and slowly invert the mold to pop out the shot. If using square or straight-sided molds, run a butter knife around the edge and slowly invert the mold to pop out the shot. For other shapes or non-flexible molds, dip the bottom of the mold in warm water for 15 seconds, invert mold onto a baking sheet, and gently tap the mold to release the jello shot.
  3. To serve from apple halves, slowly slice apple into desired thickness. Caramel Apple Jellies can be refrigerated for up to 3 days in an airtight container.

Make It: Bourbon Vanilla Caramel Sauce

Vanilla Bourbon Caramel Sauce // stirandstrain.comAbout this time every year I start mentally writing an inventory of things I should start making for Holiday gifts. I have to think about it this early because I usually forget until about a week before Christmas, freak out, and consult the list I made two months ago. This is just how I deal with life and presents.

I was totally that kid that baked for the holidays and passed out cookies and got my teacher a Valentine’s Day gift bag (admittedly only once for that. But she was a great teacher and it was an excuse to buy heart colored tissue paper.) and since starting this blog and just, well, making A LOT of stuff, I’ve been going full force at edible gifts for the Holiday season. Rewind back to a few weeks ago and you will find me wide-eyed in front of a steaming sauce pan of sugar and butter and other deliciousness. Myself and a friend decided to take a caramel making class, the selling point for me was the “Beer and Pretzel” caramels on the list of what we would make. Seriously. Beer reduction and pretzels and caramel living together in one bite-sized wrapper. Oh, but the wrappers. The only aspect I wasn’t prepared for in this class, after spending two or almost three hours making caramels, was the hour long process of individually wrapping each damn caramel I made. After an hour I was kinda done with caramels for the time being and I brought them all in to my office the next day. The beer ones being the surprise hit.

One of the last recipes we tackled that night was not actually a candy, but a sauce: caramel sauce (it was, after all, a caramel class). This sauce made its way into a cake about 3 days later. And now it is making its way here to the site. Why? Because I’ve decided to add some Bourbon and vanilla beans to it and make jars of it for presents this year. Friends, you are welcome. Try not to eat the whole jar in one sitting.

Are you thinking this is going to be too hard? It’s not. I had one hand holding a cell phone trying to pay attention to my mother while she went on about something for 45 minutes and started and finished this whole recipe by the time I got off the phone with her. That includes prep by the way.

Don’t want to give this as a gift? Ok, put it on ice cream, or sandwich it between cookies, or DO YOU REALLY NEED A REASON FOR CARAMEL SAUCE?!bourbon-caramel-3Vanilla Bourbon Caramel Sauce // stirandstrain.com

Caramel is boiling sugar. The recipe moves quickly so get all your ingredients together before you start and please, try not to spill it on yourself, it will hurt like hell.

Adapted recipe from The Gourmandise School
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 tbsp unsalted butter, Plugra is awesome and used here
1 cup heavy cream, room temp
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1 tsp fleur de sel, Murray River used here
1 oz. Buffalo Trace Bourbon
Seeds from one vanilla bean, or 1 tsp of vanilla bean paste

  1. In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, combine sugar, water, vanilla seeds (or paste), and lemon juice. Stir once to combine. On medium high heat, cook until sugar dissolves, brushing the sides of the pan with a damp pastry brush if sugar crystals stick to the sides. Bring to a boil, undisturbed (do NOT STIR), until sugar reaches a dark amber color. (This can take anywhere between 10-20 minutes. Whatever you do, don’t leave the pan. It will almost always burn if you step away.)
  2. Carefully add the cream. It will bubble and hiss like crazy, but this is normal. Bring back to a boil, then add in butter, salt and bourbon. Stir to combine and until slightly thickened, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Let cool and then jar up.

Here’s a few notes:

  • Your sauce is going to look watery at first. Don’t keep cooking it. If you pull a spoon out of the sauce and it leaves a layer, your sauce is thickened. As it cools it will thicken up much more. And once you stick it in the fridge, the next day it’s even more thick.
  • DO NOT STIR IT WHILE IT COOKS. Just don’t, it will create crystals and it will be grainy and gross.
  • The bourbon is added at the end, so you will taste it. That is the point of adding it to the sauce. Don’t like bourbon? You can add an aged rum if you like. Or just leave out the booze too if you have to.
  • Besides the lovely bourbon taste, mainly you are going to get a buttery, salted caramel with hints of vanilla. And you will keep telling yourself, One more spoonful, until there is nothing left.Vanilla Bourbon Caramel Sauce // stirandstrain.com