1/3 cup (80 ml/grams) heavy whipping cream (cream with a 35-40% butterfat content)
1 teaspoon (4 grams) kosher or sea salt
1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar
4 tablespoons (55 grams) butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon (4 grams) pure vanilla extract
6 ounces (180 grams) semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
6 ounces (180 grams) milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 tablespoon (7 grams) shortening or butter
Chocolate Caramel Cups: Line 24 miniature muffin cups with foil or paper liners.
In a small saucepan (or in the microwave) heat the cream and salt just until boiling. Remove from heat and cover to keep it warm while you caramelize the sugar.
Heat a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium high heat until very hot (but not smoking). Sprinkle the bottom of the pan with a thin layer of sugar. Adjust the heat, if needed, and allow all the sugar to melt until it becomes translucent, swirling the pan as needed so it melts slowly and evenly. (Watch carefully so it doesn't burn.) You can use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to gently stir the caramel once it has mostly become liquid. Continue to add the remaining sugar in three to four stages, swirling the pan, and stirring as needed so the sugar melts evenly. Once all the sugar has been added and has melted, continue to cook the sugar until it has become a deep reddish brown color, stirring frequently.
Then remove from heat and, stirring vigorously, add about a quarter of the hot cream. Be careful because when you first add the cream the caramel will steam and sputter. Continue to slowly add the rest of the cream, while stirring constantly. If the caramel is not smooth, place over low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until any lumps have melted. Finally, stir in the butter and vanilla. Let cool until slightly thickened before using to make the Chocolate Caramel Cups. The caramel can be covered and stored at room temperature for a week to ten days. It will be quite thick, so reheat if necessary.
Chocolate: Melt the chocolates and shortening in a heatproof bowl, placed over a saucepan of simmering water.
Spoon, or pipe, about one teaspoon of the melted chocolate into each of the paper cups. Tap the pan gently on the counter to smooth out the chocolate. Then place the pan in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes or until the chocolate has set. Remove from refrigerator and spoon (or pipe) about one teaspoon of the caramel on top of the chocolate. Then top with another teaspoon of melted chocolate. Tap the pan gently on the counter to smooth out the Chocolate Caramel Cups. If necessary, add a little more chocolate to get a smooth top. Refrigerate about 20 minutes or until set. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about a week, or they can be frozen.
Makes about 24 Chocolate Caramel Cups. Preparation time: 60 minutes.
Chocolate and caramel are the perfect match which is probably why you see this combination so much in candy bars. Chocolate Caramel Cups are similar to homemade Peanut Butter Cups. Only instead of a peanut butter filling we use caramel. So you have a shell of chocolate with a smooth and creamy caramel filling inside. So delicious that you may want to make a double batch.
As you know every brand of chocolate has its own unique flavor so this is where you get to chose how your chocolate caramel cups will taste. I have used a combination of dark and milk chocolate and you can change the ratios of milk to semi sweet chocolate if you like. Or you can even use bittersweet chocolate instead of semi sweet. But keep in mind that we are not tempering the chocolate, so you will need to store the Chocolate Caramel Cups in the refrigerator so the chocolate remains shiny with a nice snap. Otherwise, if you stored them at room temperature, the chocolate will become a little soft and develop a white coating (called bloom) after a day or two.
There are two methods for making caramel, 'wet' or the 'water' method and the 'dry' method. For this recipe we are using the 'dry' method. That means, we cook the sugar directly in the pan with no water added. The advantage of this method is that it's much quicker, but you do have to watch it carefully so it doesn't burn. Because if it burns you will need to start again. Before you start making the caramel have a bowl of ice water nearby just in case you burn yourself, have oven mitts handy, and it's best to wear long sleeves in cause the caramel bubbles and splatters. Use a medium size heavy bottomed saucepan for making caramel which helps prevent the sugar from burning. For this recipe you don't need a candy thermometer as you can tell if the caramel is cooked enough just by looking at it.