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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Mexican Chocolate Chile Caramels

I don't really do New Year's resolutions, the whole "new year, new me" doesn't really hold with a person who would rather go back in time.

But I am trying to floss more, so there's something.

Mr. Mochi was kind enough to let me pick out my Christmas gift this year. I normally hate this practice, because I love surprises and I think gift giving is an art. But he wanted to get me a Le Creuset french oven but didn't want to get the wrong size.

I'm way too practical to let him spend the money on buying one at full retail, so I found a used one on eBay. After all, my favorite color is orange and it's not exactly the most popular color, so I had a hunch there's some clueless bride who got a giant heavy pot in neon orange for her wedding and has no clue what to do with it.

It's a little more beat up than I would like, nothing major but I'm a food blogger: that pot is going to have a lot of close-ups. However I'm proud to say we got the deal of a century.

Yes, I haggled for my own Christmas gift.

Speaking of Christmas gifts, once this baby arrived I couldn't help breaking it in by making a recipe that requires some even heating, so I made some caramels for Christmas gift-giving of my own: Mexican Chocolate Chile Caramels.

Don't be scared of caramels. They aren't hard. Just make sure to use a thermometer, and I've never had a problem with a batch. And please, for your skin's sake, never do what I did when making my sriracha bars and try and catch an errant drip with your finger. Making caramels is hot business.

I packaged these caramels in cute little fishy bags I found at Daiso, the Japanese dollar store that my coworker introduced me to. They made great gifts that I didn't even have to wrap!

These caramels do have a lot going on: grainy Mexican chocolate with it's cinnamon flavor, the zing from the dried chiles, and the caramel of course. Trust me and try them, they are a fun twist on caramels.

Mexican Chocolate Chile Caramels
(adapated from Brave Potato's recipe)

2 cups heavy cream
2-4 small dried red chiles
1 tsp cinnamon
5 oz dark or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
5 1/2 oz Mexican chocolate (popular brands: Ibarra & Abuelita)
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp table salt

Heat the cream in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once it boils, remove from heat, add the chiles, cover and let sit for 30 minutes. At this point, you can taste the cream, it should be a tad spicier than you want the caramels to be. You can throw more chiles in and let sit for another 15 minutes if necessary. Strain and return the cream to the saucepan, and bring back to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to low, and add the chocolates and cinnamon, stirring until completely melted. After the chocolate has been incorporated, take off the heat.

Next, line an 8" square pan with parchment paper, set aside.

In a large pot (at least 5-6 quarts), combine the sugar, syrup, water, and table salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved, stirring regularly. After the sugar is dissolved, cease stirring, but to avoid crystal formation you can wash down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush and water occasionally. I don't do this for caramels, and had no problems. Boil the mixture until it turns a deep golden brown (candy thermometer will register 350°F).

Pour in the cream and chocolate mixture, being careful to avoid the steam and froth that will happen. Stir until combined, and then boil, stirring frequently, until the mixture reaches 255°F, then pour the caramel into the pan lined with parchment paper. Do not scrape the caramel from the sides or bottom of the pan, in case it got crystallized. Clean this pot immediately, because cooled caramel sucks to scrub off a pot, but don't burn yourself.

Cool completely, at least 2 hrs, before attempting to cut. I cut mine into pretty tiny squares, but feel free to cut them as large as you want. Lightly oiling a knife with vegetable oil helps keep them from sticking. Wrap caramels in parchment or wax paper and store in a cool dry place.

See Also:
Sriracha Bar
Mexican Candy
German Chocolate Brownies


  1. These sound great! I LOVE the fishy bags and the caramels look professional! I like neon orange too and the ombre effect.

  2. These caramels sound very unique. Chocolate and chile? Would love to try that. I didn't know Daiso sell the little fish bags like that. So adorable! Your Le Creuset's color is very nice. Neon orange is definitely a new color trend. My is in buttercup. Le Creuset is essential. We all need one (or maybe 2 & 3). :D

    1. The funny thing is orange has been my favorite color since I was a little kid, but most women hate orange. Apparently a survey showed it was women's LEAST favorite color, but now it seems to be trendy! I'm excited, more orange things for me!