CARAMEL FIRE: Vanilla-Espresso-Cannabis-Caramel with Sea Salt

I was asked to submit a recipe for World Baking Week and in considering what to submit decided I wanted something that would make a cannabis recipe attractive, relatable, and enticing enough to encourage someone to try making their first edible while still being so good seasoned edible makers would also enjoy it. There are many cliched edibles like brownies, gummies and such but I wanted something that resides more in the comfort food fold decided on caramels! I know it’s not “baking” but it’s caramel so close enough? I asked for recommendations and received many great suggestions and settled on the recipe from Inspired Tastes (click for link) which was adapted from the original recipe of Jacques Pepin and the book, “Chez Jacques: Traditions and Rituals of a Cook” as my starting point.  I chose this as a starting point because I liked the softness of the texture and the pace of how it melts in your mouth. Thank you for the suggestion AJ!

The original recipe makes great caramels but I had to medicate it and make the flavor my own so I added three of my favorite things: vanilla, espresso, and a beautiful cannabis concentrate.  The espresso extraction I make is detailed in my blog post Espresso Extraction: Bold Bean Flavor With a Punch.  You can make the vanilla extraction yourself as well, but considering the scarcity and price of vanilla these days it may be better to purchase an off the shelf vanilla extract.  If you want to make your own you can follow the same instructions as with making the espresso extraction.  The final touch was a beautifully clean, full spectrum, decarbed cannabis oil.  If cooking with real cannabis concentrates, not infusions, is unfamiliar my blog post Cooking With Cannabis Concentrates can be very helpful.

The results of the modified recipe really show my preferences of flavor and balance; the candy begins with the full but soft sweetness of caramel, light vanilla floating in as it melts, an occasional sea salt-crunch contradiction, then finally a most excellently bold but controlled espresso finish that lingers. The cannabis flavor is super clean and quite faint, you might be able to pick it out of the background.  With all this preamble nonsense out of the way let’s do what I do best and get to crafting!

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ½ cup heavy cream (36%-40% fat)
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • ¼ cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract *
  • 1 tsp espresso extract **
  • 1g (or more) Decarbed Cannabis THC or CBD concentrate***
  • ½ tsp course or flake sea salt

* Store purchased vanilla extract is normally 35% alcohol by volume.  When using vanilla extract made yourself adjust strength accordingly.

** For best results in this recipe using a good quality espresso bean you like and making the extract yourself is a great treat.  The 1 tsp is for a pretty dense extract, if you are using an alcohol heavy extract adjust accordingly.

*** I used a very clean, high-quality, full spectrum, decarbed extract (pictured above).  If you use a heavy RSO/FECO extract these caramels will be overpowered by the green flavor and probably clash hard with the espresso.  I highly (no pun intended) recommend cooking with clean concentrates.  Make sure you are using a concentrate made by extraction, not an infusion that has carrier oil or butter in it.  Please make sure to pay close attention to dosing and if you aren’t sure please refer to the dosing section in the Cooking With Cannabis Concentrates post. Using 1g of 70% purity will end up with around 10mg per piece in this recipe depending on how many pieces you cut into.  Please add more to increase potency as you like. 

EQUIPMENT

  • Candy making thermometer is very important.
  • Small saucepan.
  • Two 7”x7” silicone boxes by ExtractCraft.
    • The boxes make about 36-1” thin square pieces each. I’ve liked the result of taking the 7”x7” full square after cooling and rolling it, letting set, then cutting into thicker shapes as well.
  • Or a 9”x5” loaf pan.
    • The 9”x5” pan allows for thicker pieces if desired. 
  • For larger batches, 4x this recipe to make a perfect ½ sheet.

PREPARATION

Prepare Containers

  • Very lightly grease the silicone boxes, or if you are using a loaf pan or ½ sheet oil the pan/sheet then line with lightly oiled parchment paper including an overhang to form an inch or so boundary along all edges.

Prepare Butter and Heavy Cream Combination

  • Cut butter into pieces for easy melting.  Combine butter and cream and microwave for 1-2 minutes until butter is melted. Cream in a microwave can make a mess so keep an eye on it, it only needs to be warm enough to melt the butter. Set aside to use later. 

Place a Small Sauce Pan With a Candy Thermometer Attached Over Medium Heat

  • Combine water and corn syrup.
  • Stir in sugar gently to wet it.  Avoid getting sugar on the side of the pan. Leave mixture over heat without stirring and bring to a boil.
  • Boil without stirring until 320°F (about 5-10 minutes).  If there appear to be hot spots developing in the pan, gently swirl to move the molten sugar around a little.  A beautiful amber caramelization will develop and create the color for the end product.
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  • At 320°F incorporate the butter and cream combination slowly and carefully beginning with just a little and gradually increasing.  This step will boil violently and can boil over if too much of the liquid is added too quickly, so execute with caution. 
  • The temp will drop after adding the butter and cream.  Continue to heat until 235°F for soft texture and up to 255°F for something more firm and remove from heat.

Add Extracts

  • Once removed from heat allow to cool to around 220°F and gently fold in cannabis concentrate thoroughly combine.  A uniform inclusion of the cannabis is very important for reliable dosing.  Heating the concentrate in preparation of this step will make combining much easier.  Stirring caramel is normally not recommended, but we have to break the rules to medicate.
  • When the temperature is down to around 200°F slowly and carefully stir in the vanilla and espresso concentrates.  If there’s alcohol in the extracts it boil violently so be ready for it as you add it in.  Still breaking the no stirring rule but we do what we gotta do!

Pour, Cool and Cut

  • Pour into box, pan or sheet and allow to cool for 30-minutes and top with sea salt.
  • Allow to cool further for 2-3 hours, then refrigerate for an hour.  Refrigerating will firm up the caramel to make easier removal from the box, pan, or sheet.
  • If using the silicone boxes the caramel should be firm enough to pop the squares of caramel out and place on parchment paper, for cutting.  For the loaf pan or ½ sheet transfer caramel to dry parchment paper and cut accordingly.
  • I use a pizza cutter to easily and quickly cut into squares. Another person can hold straight edge above the caramel and steady the caramel sheet from sliding if you want very straight lines.

Alternate Roll and Cut Method

  • Flatten the cooled sheet of caramel with a rolling pin to about 1/8″ thickness.
  • Roll the sheet so its a few layers high and let rest at room temp for an hour.
  • Once it settles into a nice log cut across the log for a nicely shaped caramel.

Wrap Up Your Delicious Caramel Fire

  • Last steps are to use wax paper squares to wrap with twisty ends, share with friends, and Stay Lifted!

2 thoughts on “CARAMEL FIRE: Vanilla-Espresso-Cannabis-Caramel with Sea Salt

  1. Sounds fantastic!! Your concentrate is pictured in a small dessert bowl; how viscous is it? My 1 gram syringe of concentrate is a thick, very sticky red-gold delight that would look like yours if diluted. MCT carrier?

    1. That concentrate was tested at 79% THC (83% total cannabinoids) and 98% decarb. It is very stable as it is very clean and well purged. It is a stable solid that’s tacky to the touch.

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