They are a lot easier to make than you would imagine. With a few common ingredients, you will get an outstanding treat that will make your holiday gifts that much more special.
Line an 8 x 8-inch pan with parchment paper. In a heavy bottom pot set over medium-high heat, combine the sugar, corn syrup, water and cream of tartar. Stir occasionally until the sugar has dissolved.
Let the mixture simmer undisturbed until it turns an amber color or a little darker, if you prefer. Be careful on this step as it can go from amber color to burned really quickly, in which case, you will need to start over.
Turn the heat off and add the heavy cream, vanilla bean and butter into the pot and be extremely careful as it will bubble up when you add the heavy cream. Stir really well to combine. Turn the heat back on, and stir until the butter is completely melted. Continue cooking until the mixture has reached 248 degrees F.
Carefully pour the caramel into the prepared pan. Gently tap the pan a few times to release air bubbles. Let it sit for 30 minutes, then generously sprinkle the caramel with fleur de sel or sea salt. Let it sit for 2 hours or until it's firm enough to cut. Spray oil over a sharp knife, and cut the caramel to the desired shape.
Wrap each piece with wax paper. Store airtight at cool room temperature, or in the refrigerator, for up to 2 weeks.
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