I’ve been getting my bake on a lot (check out my new venture, Cupcake Friday), so when I came across a recipe for Ale and Pretzel Soft Caramels from Sprinkle Bakes, I knew I had to try it with some of our Extra Fancy Brown Ale.
Extra Fancy Brown Ale Pretzel Caramels
(adapted from Sprinkle Bakes original recipe)
1 12 oz. bottle of Extra Fancy Brown Ale
2 cups sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup light corn syrup
1 8 oz. package pretzel rods, broken into 1 inch sections
Kosher or sea salt for light sprinkling
wax paper for wrapping caramels
In a small saucepan bring 1 cup of brown ale to a simmer and reduce to approximately 1/2 tbsp. This will take about 15-20 minutes and yield a concentrated ale flavoring. Set aside.
Butter a 13 x 9 inch pan and set aside. Combine remaining beer and all other ingredients except ale reduction in a heavy pot—I used an 8 quart stock pot to give the caramel plenty of room. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Butter will melt and mixture will begin to boil.
Continue to cook until candy thermometer reaches 244 degrees, this will take about 30 minutes. You can test your caramel in a bowl of ice water to check the consistency. It should form a firm ball.
When the correct temperature has been reached, stir in the ale reduction and remove from heat. Pour into prepared pan and top with pretzel bits. Sprinkle lightly with salt.
Cool for several hours or place in fridge until firm. Remove caramel block from pan and turn pretzel-side up on a cutting board (if refrigerated, let caramel block warm up a little for easier cutting). Cut around the pretzels into 1″ pieces. Wrap caramels so they keep their shape.
This was my first time making caramel and it was pretty easy, though I don’t think I have true soft caramels—you have to hold them in your mouth a bit to get them to soften, but the flavor is nice. Not too sweet … I wonder if the brown ale helps with that at all?
As you can see in the photo to the right, I had a 9×13 brick of caramel with pretzels submerged. I had to do a bit of fighting to dislodge the caramel, then slowly but surely cut them into individual candies. Ray brought a container to IndyHall today, and I have a container for my coworkers, so it’ll be interesting to get their opinions on my confections.