I challenge anyone to have mastered his first caramel the first time! I’m talking about real caramel with a nice reddish color, liquid enough to be able to work it. I’m not talking about melted and slightly burnt sugar or sugar syrup.
Personally, the first time I understood about real caramel and was successful in making it was as if I had discovered the holy grail. Despite this discovery, I still fail from time to time!
Some girls can spend hours debating on their last shopping spree or the color of their skirt but between Mike and me, it does not happen quite like that. We talk about caramel!
As I was doing some research on the web, I noticed that all the pastellaki recipes that were published were made using the same process. But probably contaminated by Mike, I decided to do it my way by putting my two cents, or rather my maternal grandmother’s two cents. My advice: never put your two cents in the caramel! It was an epic fail!
I thought I could easily do as my grandmother taught me when I used the secrets of her famous almond nougat. She used to mix all the ingredients in a saucepan and stir without stopping until the sugar melted completely. And I can tell you that it definitely works with almonds!
With peanuts, it was a different story. The absorption of sugar was a total fiasco and I found myself facing a lot of French pralines such as those found at street fairs. Only my husband David found them excellent!
Armed with my candy thermometer, I started the recipe from scratch and followed all the steps most scrupulously, without any additional cents.
On the island of Cyprus, desserts are not at all popular. Cypriots prefer fresh fruits or fruits in syrup and mostly during dinner.
Some areas of the island of Cyprus being British enclaves, tea time has become a tradition and it is often at this time that pastellakis are served.
This week, my “guinea pig” was Mike’s dad, who is apparently quite critical. Not sure if he said that to make me happy but he found them very good. Thank you, Mony!
- 1¼ cup unsalted peanuts with skin
- 2 cups sugar
- 1½ tablespoon honey
- ¼ cup water
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons golden sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
- 1 candy thermometer
Put the water, sugar, vanilla and honey in a heavy saucepan, combine ingredients, stirring once.
Bring to a boil.
Do not stir. You may tilt the pan by holding the handle, but at this stage of the recipe, do not put a spoon in the mixture.
Immerse the thermometer and when the mixture reaches 250 F (about 10 minutes after boiling over medium heat) and becomes slightly amber, your caramel is ready.
Add vinegar and stir.
Add peanuts and sesame seeds.
Mix and leave on the stove, stirring regularly.
The syrup will crystallize and form as white sand around peanuts.
At this point, you shouldn't stop stirring.
Increase the heat to medium / high. Granulated sugar will brown and melt.
When the mixture reaches a beautiful reddish color, quickly pour onto a tray covered with lightly greased parchment paper and let cool.
Coarsely chop the pieces into brittles.