Cornish Seasalted Caramels – wet or dry caramel?

By Nicky Grant 18th January 2017


At Nicky Grant we have been making our award winning fresh cream seasalted caramels for about 10 years now. It took a lot of hard work in the beginning, in fact about 4 months and a lot of burnt sugar and pans to get the recipe right.

After spending time testing with the Technical Advisors at The Chocolate Academy at Barry Callebaut in 2008, we realised we were on the right track but controlling the temperature and preventing burning of the Caramel is key to success. You see, unlike many Chefs and patissiers we only use the dry caramel method as opposed to the familiar water based method often seen on TV.

The obvious difference between the two methods is the presence of, you guessed it, water.

We start making our Caramels from one spoon of sugar in a large flat and thick bottomed pan. Once that melts we add another spoonful and so on and so on until we have the desired quantity of caramel, perhaps a kilo or so before beginning to add the fresh Cornish Cream and seasalt. The result is a deliciously rich, nutty brown caramel that is not too fluid and not too firm. There shouldn’t be any recrystallisation of the sugar (noticed by an obvious and unappealing grittiness in the mouth).

The wet method on the other hand involves adding sugar to water and essentially creating a caramel by a process of supersaturation, heat and evaporation. There is a risk with this method that recrystallisation may occur.

The dry method is a much more sensitive method but the flavour it produces easily makes this the more desirable of the two. Indeed, Jean Pierre Wybauw in his book Chocolate Chocolate, tables the results of both methods and he finds the dry method a more superior flavour.

A wet caramel, well, just tastes more watery. The dry caramel is more nutty and flavoursome. By adding a touch of sea salt (the use of which apparently originates from Artisan du chocolat) the sweetness of the caramel is toned down but the flavour is greatly enhanced.

The choice of chocolate container that you chose to pipe the caramel in to is important too. If you go with a poor grade of chocolate the end product will taste too confectionary based and oversweet. Valrhona produce a dark chocolate chocosphere of exceptional quality but this might be prohibitive from a cost price point of view when producing your caramels. Michel Cluizel also do a range of praline containers.

We also roll our truffles in an alkalised extra brute cocoa powder and this gives a great texture and sets up the palate for the caramel experience to come.

For more on our caramels or if you would like to experience our award winning fresh cream caramels go to our shop