Tea isn't just for drinking any more! Regular tea bags can be used to infuse exotic flavors into homemade candies. In this recipe, Earl Grey tea lends a smoky, complex flavor to these smooth, chewy caramels. I like mine topped with a pinch of sea salt, but dipping them in chocolate is also delicious!
- 4 Earl Grey tea bags
- 12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) heavy cream
- 4 ounces (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, divided use
- 11 ounces (1 cup) light corn syrup
- 14 ounces (2 cups) granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Additional flaked sea salt for topping, optional
Line an 8x8 pan with parchment or aluminum foil extending up the sides, and spray the pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Remove the paper tags from the tea bags. Combine the tea bags, heavy cream, and half of the butter (2 oz). Place the pan over medium heat and bring the mixture to a simmer (don't boil it). Remove the pan from the heat, cover it with a tight-fitting lid, and let it sit for 30 minutes to infuse the flavors. This will produce a caramel with a subtle but noticeable flavor. If you want a very strong flavor, continue to infuse the cream for an additional 15-20 minutes.
Remove the tea bags and squeeze them over the pot of cream to remove any excess moisture and get all of the tea flavor into the cream.
Combine the corn syrup and the sugar in a 4-quart saucepan and place the pan over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a boil. Cover the pan with a lid and let it boil for 4 minutes, so the condensation will wash the sugar crystals from the side of the pan.
Remove the lid and insert a candy thermometer. Continue to cook the sugar, without stirring, until it reaches 320 F (160 C) on the candy thermometer. Once at 320 F, carefully pour the warm cream into the hot sugar syrup. The mixture will bubble and splatter a great deal, and the temperature will drop.
Cook the caramel, stirring frequently, until it reaches 250 F. This will give you a soft, chewy caramel. If you prefer firmer caramels, cook the candy to 255 F.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the remaining 2 ounces of butter, 1/2 tsp salt, and the vanilla extract, then pour the caramel into the prepared pan. Let it set at room temperature until firm, at least 4 hours or overnight. Once set, remove the candy from the pan and peel off the foil from the back. Use a large sharp knife to cut the caramels into small squares. If desired, top them with a pinch of flaked sea salt. Store these caramels in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks.