We’ve covered a few recipes and techniques on this blog that I would easily say cross into the “controversial” category. From truly disgustingly disturbing looking cakes to the use of real insects, we’ve pushed more than a few buttons and crossed a few culinary boundaries, but have always managed to end up with a dish that is overwhelmingly well received. It seems, however, that I’ve finally found the one recipe that the majority of you find truly offensive.
I’ve posted a few teasers for this recipe and within minutes of hitting “post” got a flood of comments ranging from “Why?” to “Hate it,” “Can’t stand it,” to “Now THIS is gross.”
For this recipe, I’m not doing anything extra special to it. I’m not making it disgustingly delicious using any techniques or tricks. We’re not cutting it into tiny creepy shapes or surrounding it with blood and guts.
Nope. I’m letting this dark monstrosity stand all on its own because apparently, that’s all I need to do to truly scare a few of you off from even thinking about making this dish.
For those of you who are feeling brave, and who can handle slinking down the dark side of candy, this black salted licorice caramel is delicious. It’s smooth and chewy, with a texture that begs to be bitten and stretched into thin black spiderweb-like tendrils. It’s clingy, and wraps around your mouth like a black velvet glove of richness. The added crunch of the salt on top is a nice pop and balances out the sweetness beautifully.
For those of you still along for this ride, let’s make some licorice.
You will need:
- 4 Tablespoons of butter +1 teaspoon for greasing
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup corn syrup (dark or light)
- 1.4 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
- Pinch of black volcanic sea salt
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 6 Tablespoons of flour
- 1 tablespoon anise extract (up to 2 if you’re really truly ready to embrace the dark side, and for those of you who just flat out refuse any anise flavor…just omit completely…sigh.)
- black food coloring gel
Start by first lining a bread loaf pan with parchment paper. Next, using that additional teaspoon of butter, grease that paper up like there’s no tomorrow.
In a pan over medium heat, combine your butter, sugar, corn syrup, condensed milk, molasses and kosher salt.
Over medium heat, bring the mixture to gentle boil, stirring frequently until the temperature reaches just over 240F/116C.
If you take it off the heat at exactly 240F, you’ll end up with a soft, chewy caramel. Between 250 and 280 you will end up with a tougher caramel. Anything over 300 (hard crack stage) and you’ll end up with traditional hard candy suckers.
I prefer mine at around temperature 245-250; firm enough to hold their shape without becoming too tough to chew easily.
Once you reach your desired temperature, remove from heat and immediately stir in your flour, enough black food gel to achieve a midnight hue and your anise extract.
(Be aware that when you add the anise, you’re adding it to a very hot pot of liquid sugar. It will bubble up and release a cloud of steam. Don’t let that steam get in your eyes or breathe it in as it will be irritating.)
Pour the mixture into you parchment lined bread tin, sprinkle with your black sea salt, and pop the whole thing into the fridge to cool for about 45 minutes.
Once cooled and solid, remove from your tin and peel off the paper.
Using a sharp and oiled knife, slice your salted black licorice caramels into squares.
I also like to trim off the very edges of the licorice as it does have a thin layer of butter on it from where we greased the paper. It’s perfectly fine to eat these edges, but I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and I like my edges sharp and crisp.
Either serve and eat immediately or wrap individual squares in waxed paper for later. Store uneaten caramels wrapped in wax paper in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.