2011/05/24

Sugar, Spice & Everything Nice - That's What Girls are Made of (Honey Lavender Caramels)

Spring is the time for all that is sweet.  And lovely.


The newly risen grass turns to a lovely shade of green.  Little baby buds turn into fledgling leaves on the trees.  The flowers of June start preparing to make their entrance up through the warming soil.   


Boys and girls go through an annual right of passage. Preparing in earnest for that one magical night each year where they get to play at being a little older.  While still maintaining the flush of youth. 


Dresses are chosen and fitted to be "just so".  The perfect shoes and jewelry are carefully selected far in advance.  Last minute preparations are not to be tolerated - and are even potentially disastrous. 


Hair and makeup are practiced and executed to perfection.  Nothing less will do.  For tonight is Prom...


Where Runner Girls shed their racing flats and pony tails...


...for heels and gowns.


And for a chosen few...  A crown. 


The mothers sigh.  The fathers want to cry.  For little girls almost lost to the future.  Where sugar and spice and everything nice find a new way to shine.  That's what Proms are made of. 


And what sweet treat is worthy of such a fete?


Caramelized sugar with a taste of honey, laced with lavender. 


Far easier to make than preparing a girl for her big night out...


Lavender & Honey Caramels
Adapted from The Gilded Fork

Ingredients
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tsp dried lavender buds
3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks - and don't skimp, use the good stuff)
3/4 cup honey
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
Fleur de Sel for sprinkling (a couple of pinches)

Directions

FYI - you will need a candy thermometer. 

Prepare a 9" pan by lining with parchment paper (I like to let two sides hang over to help lift the caramels out of the pan).  Butter parchment paper & sides of the pan lightly. 

In a medium saucepan, bring both dairy products and the lavender to a boil.  Once the mixture has boiled, remove from heat and allow to steep for a half hour.  After the steeping period, strain the mixture through a fine sieve - reserve two cups of the lavender steeped milk.  Discard the lavender.

In a 4-5 quart sauce pan (high sides are good here & a heavy pan is also good), combine the milk mixture, honey, butter & sugar.  Secure candy thermometer to the side of the pan - making sure tip is under the liquid, but not touching the bottom of the pan.  Cook over medium heat - stir frequently.  Bring to a full boil.  If any of the mixture spurts up on the sides of the pan, brush down with a wet pastry brush. 

When the thermometer reaches 240F, stir constantly until it reaches 248F.  (I think the whole heating process took about 30 minutes or so).  Immediately remove from heat - stir in vanilla & 1/2 tsp salt.  Pour into prepared pan.  (Tap pan on hard surface to even out mixture if needed).  Sprinkle with Fleur de Sel - if you don't have any Fleur de Sel, just skip this part.  Trust me, table salt won't cut it...

Cool mixture completely in refrigerator (~1-2 hours - depending how many times you go in and out of the refrigerator... just sayin').  Invert onto a cutting board and flip over so that "glossy" (and salted) side is facing up.  Cut into little squares, or rectangles or whatever floats your boat.  Keep them bite sized...  Store in an airtight container in a cool, non-humid place - use parchment between the layers. 

11 comments:

  1. Oh this makes me just want to cry! The beauty of it all. Your daughter is gorgeous, love her dress, and the photo of her shoes. Those caramels look delicious and what perfect nibbles for a group of teens. Another big sigh from me...

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  2. These look so tasty! And that's a great flavor combination.

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  3. SHE is gorgeous!!! The caramels are pretty, too! :) nom nom nom!

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  4. This brings back such wonderful memories of both my kids' prom nights. It is such a wonderful time in their lives - enjoy every minute! Your treats look and sound perfect.

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  5. These look heavenly! Thanks for posting :)

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  6. Ah, I remember it well. Your photos are wonderful and she is a beautiful young woman. Your caramels look delicious and are perfect to match the joy and sorrow of a passage event. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

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  7. Looks great, never tried lavender with caramel. Also I've never seen a recipe that has milk also - good to know

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  8. Beautiful =) and the caramels sound AMAZING!

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  9. Your caramels are beautiful, but not as beautiful as Runner. Sigh.

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  10. This whole post just made me smile and feel a little nostalgic. My daughter isn't in school yet so prom feels lightyears away, but I know it will go quicker than I can imagine. Ironically, for mother's day this year, my husband bought me lavender caramels. What a beautiful tribute you wrote about here :)

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  11. Wow. I read posts like that and, much as I love my boy - and I adore him - I do think I'll be missing out on a lot of special things!

    Never mind, I can just console myself with some caramels eh? They look absolutely stunning.

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