Like many things I make, this batch of candy resulted from my own craving. Why buy caramels if they are likely to be too sweet, stale, expensive, or all three? These scratched the itch and were easy, even without a candy thermometer.
1 pint heavy cream
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1/2 tsp salt
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I used 75%, you could make them more bitter by using a higher cocoa percentage.)
I stick unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
flaky sea salt for garnish
Line an 8×13 (or so) pan with parchment paper. (The smaller the pan, the higher the caramels.) Spray the parchment with cooking spray.
Whisking constantly, simmer the cream, sugar, corn syrup and salt until it thickens slightly and reaches 220 degrees, 10-15 minutes.. Off the heat, whisk in the butter and chocolate. Cook (and whisk) until it reaches “firm ball” stage (240 degrees)–this may take 20 more minutes. Be patient. You’ll see the mixture thicken yet again; the simmering bubbles will be large. To test, put a bit on a cold plate and see if it holds its shape. Stir in the vanilla and take off the heat.
Pour into the prepared pan and sprinkle the top with Maldon or other flaky salt, as desired. Allow to sit 8-12 hours in a cool place. Unmold onto cutting board and cut into squares or rectangles, then wrap each piece in parchment or wax paper.