Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies [Golden Cardamom Caramels]

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Golden Cardamom Caramels
*adapted from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich

1 cup light corn syrup
2 cups granulated sugar
3/8 tsps fine sea salt
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon slightly crushed cardamom seeds (from about 15 cardamom pods)
3 tbsps unsalted butter, cut into chunks, softened

Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with aluminum foil and grease the foil. Combine the golden syrup, sugar, and salt in a heavy 3-quart saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, until the mixture begins to simmer around the edges. Wash the sugar and syrup from the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes. (Meanwhile, rinse the spatula or spoon before using it again later.) Uncover the pan and wash down the sides once more. Attach the candy thermometer to the pan, without letting it touch the bottom of the pan, and cook, uncovered (without stirring) until the mixture reaches 305F. Meanwhile, combine the cream and cardamom seeds in a small saucepan and heat until tiny bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Turn off the heat and cover the pan to keep the cream hot. Strain the cream to remove the cardamom seeds right before using the cream.

When the sugar mixture reaches 305°F, turn off the heat and stir in the butter chunks. Gradually stir in the hot cream; it will bubble up and steam dramatically, so be careful. Turn the burner back on and adjust it so that the mixture boils energetically but not violently. Stir until any thickened syrup at the bottom of the pan is dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, to about 245°F . Then cook, stirring constantly, to 260F for soft, chewy caramels or 265F for firmer chewy caramels (I recommend 260F).

Remove the pan from the heat. Pour the caramel into the lined pan. After an hour, sprinkle with additional sea salt for garnish, if desired. Let set for 4 to 5 hours, or overnight until firm. If you are making hard caramels, chop the caramels when they are still warm, but solid (maybe wait an hour).

Lift the pan liner from the pan and invert the sheet of caramel onto a sheet of parchment paper. Peel off the liner. Cut the caramels with an oiled knife. Wrap each caramel individually in wax paper or cellophane. Makes about 81 1-inch caramels.

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