Dish of the Day: Lily Vanilli’s recipe for Pulled Fleur De Sel & Almond Caramel Brittle
This is a lovely garnish for your cakes, especially chocolate. It’s a simple hard caramel, strewn, in this case with fleur de sel, toasted almonds, cacao nibs and blue cornflowers and then pulled to form pretty, thin strips at the crucial moment of setting.
You can of course add anything to the setting caramel, marcola almonds would be nice or edible flowers like pansies or some flecks of dark chocolate. The trick is to pour the caramel quite thin to begin with, then pull ever so gently as its setting, with a final clean tug just the moment before it hardens for good.
Please be very careful with your fingers when making this or working with any hot sweets. Having recently plunged my poor fingers into a pot of boiling sugar (inexplicably mistaking it for a bowl of rose petals), I can confirm it’s a total waste of time and very painful.
* 65ml water
* 100g Granulated Sugar
* Sprinkle Fleur de Sel (or any flaked salt)
* Sprinkle of any additional flavourings/garnish you like – such as – coffee beans, grated chocolate, fresh or dried edible flowers, toasted almonds, chopped nuts, cacao nibs.
Line a baking sheet with baking paper and ideally have a small pot of water and a clean pastry brush on hand. Have a clean plate or additional sheet of baking paper on hand too for the finished caramels. Have some rubber gloves at the ready.
Gently stir the sugar & water together in a medium heavy bottomed pan then turn on the heat to medium-high.
After this point do not stir the mixture at any point and try not to jolt, swirl or disturb the pan at all. Do keep an eye on the mixture as it boils though, and if you start to see any ‘crystals’ of sugar forming just above the water line at the edges use a soaking wet pastry brush to loosen them away. Make sure the insides of your pan are clean of any flecks of sugar in this way. This will stop crystallisation of you sugar mix.
As the mixture starts to caramelise and turns a light amber colour, remove it from the heat and pour quickly over your lined baking sheet. Tilt the edges of the sheet to spread the caramel thinly over its surface.
Sprinkle with the salt & additional garnishes.
As the mixture starts to cool, work quickly and use a gloved hand to gently pull from the edges, keeping it as one piece if possible. When you feel the caramel is about to set hard pull away long, thin strips and set them aside on a plate or sheet of baking paper.
Use to decorate your cakes as in the image above (chocolate cake with salt caramel brittle, bitter chocolate crumble & cacao nibs).
Will keep stored airtight somewhere cool for up to two weeks.
Watch those fingers!
Lily Vanilli’s Sweet Tooth is available from Cannongate books, 2012
Follow Lily on Twitter @lilyvanillicake
For more information visit lilyvanilli.com
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