Makes 80 1-inch caramels
1 cup light syrup
2 cups sugar
3/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup of cook dry bacon bites (remove as much bacon fat as you could)
2 cups heavy cream
1½ teaspoons pure ground vanilla beans, 1 bean 1/2 ground in a coffee or spice grinders, or 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla powder or vanilla paste
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks, softened
one block of dark or milk chocolate
Maison Cote Alderwood smoked sea salt as finishing touch
1. Line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil and grease the foil. Combine the light corn syrup, sugar, and salt in a heavy 3-quart saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, until the mixture begins to simmer around the edges. Wash the sugar and syrup from the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes. (Meanwhile, rinse the spatula or spoon before using it again later.) Uncover the pan and wash down the sides once more. Attach a candy thermometer to the pan, without letting it touch the bottom of the pan, and cook, uncovered (without stirring) until the mixture reaches 305°F. Meanwhile, combine the cream and ground vanilla beans in a small saucepan and heat until tiny bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Turn off the heat and cover the pan to keep the cream hot.
2. When the sugar mixture reaches 305°F add the cook bacon bite, turn off the heat and stir in the butter chunks. Gradually stir in the hot cream; it will bubble up and steam dramatically, so be careful. Turn the burner back on and adjust it so that the mixture boils energetically but not violently. Stir until any thickened syrup at the bottom of the pan is dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, to about 245°F. Then cook, stirring constantly, to 260F for soft, chewy caramels or 265F for firmer chewy caramels.
3. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract, if using. Pour the caramel into the lined pan. Let set for 4 to 5 hours, or overnight until firm.
4. Lift the pan liner from the pan and invert the sheet of caramel onto a sheet of parchment paper. Peel off the liner. Cut the caramels with an oiled knife, dip in a melt bark or milk chocolate let cool off on a parchment paper or silicone sheet, sprinkle some Maison Cote alderwood smoked sea salt. Wrap each caramel individually in wax paper or cellophane.