Salted Pumpkin Caramels
Halloween is about candy, but that doesn't mean you are stuck with what you see at the supermarket. These salted pumpkin caramels are easy, fun and delicious and come straight from the farmers market.
- 3/4 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- 1 1/2 cup heavy cream (35% or whipping cream)
- 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ginger, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, and 1/8 tsp. each allspice and cloves)
- 2 cups white cane sugar
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup water
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- 1 tsp. fleur de sel or kosher salt
Yield: Approximately 64 one-inch caramels
- Toast the pumpkin seeds in a skillet until they start popping. Line the bottom of an 8-inch square glass pan with buttered parchment paper. Spread out the toasted pumpkin seeds on top of the parchment in the pan.
In the saucepan, combine the cream, pumpkin puree, and the spices. Heat it until warm, but do not let it boil. Remove from heat.
In a medium heavy-bottomed pan, combine the sugar, maple syrup, and water. Stir until the sugar is melted. Allow it to boil until it reaches 244 degrees (the upper limit of "soft ball" point on a thermometer). Add the cream and pumpkin mixture, and stir gently until incorporated. Allow this mixture to boil and bring it to 240 degrees on the candy thermometer. This is the part that can take time, around 30 minutes, so be patient and watch it carefully, stirring often so it doesn't burn, particularly in the last stages when it gets very thick.
Once it has reached 240, remove it from heat and stir in the butter and lemon juice swiftly, stirring well until both are fully incorporated and butter is melted. Now pour the caramel into the pan, on top of the pumpkin seeds. Let it cool about 30 minutes and if you wish you can sprinkle the salt on at this stage (or wait later and individually sprinkle salt on each square once they are cut). Wait at least 2 hours for caramel to fully set before slicing. Use a hot knife to slice them more easily, cutting them into 1-inch squares. If you have trouble cutting them because they are too soft, you can always chill them for 20 minutes before cutting. Wrap them individually in waxed paper, if you wish..