Smoked Almond Caramels
- Vegetable oil cooking spray
- 1 cup (5 ounces) coarsely chopped smoked almonds
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon water
- 3/4 cup bittersweet (60 percent cacao) chocolate chips (recommended: Ghiradelli)
- Special equipment: a candy thermometer, a 12-count muffin pan
For the caramel: In a 3-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the cream, butter, sugar, and water. Stir over medium heat until the mixture is smooth. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer registers 240 degrees F, about 5 to 7 minutes. Let the mixture cool for 30 seconds. Using a long-handled, metal spoon, carefully spoon the caramel over the nuts. Allow the caramel to harden, at room temperature, for 1 hour.
Put the chocolate chips in a medium stainless steel or glass bowl. Set the bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water and stir occasionally until the chocolate has melted, about 4 minutes. Spoon the chocolate over the caramel and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Using a thin-bladed spatula, remove the candies from the pan (caramel will be hard). Let the candies stand at room temperature for at least 1 hour (to allow the caramel to soften) before serving.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis