\\ HANDMADE CARAMELS WITH LAVENDER AND FLEUR DE SEL //

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Simultaneously over- and underwhelmed by the holidays and mostly everything else, I decided to hibernate and eat tacos and NOT draw all of my friends and family the hideously excellent Christmas cards I usually look forward to arting every year. But then! An early Christmas swim at the YMCA rattled my feathers and cleared my head. I must say I love you and thank you to the people who take care of and snack off with and tolerate me all year long. Well, at least to mom and dear old dad. And what better to do that than homemade candy? With fancy flowers and salt to boot?! Hooray! And here we go, placidly, cheaply, quickly and easily.

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons tiny dried lavender buds (so pretty)

1 cup heavy cream

1 3/4 cup sugar

6-8 tablespoons butter

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp fleur de sel, plus more for sprinkling!

METHOD

Bring the cream to a simmer with the lavender, remove from heat and add fleur de sel. Set aside and let sit while you get on with boiling the sugar, or about thirty minutes.

In a deep-ish stock pot, heat the sugar over medium-high. Push it around with a wooden spoon, to make sure it’s not burning and everything is melting, but don’t stir. It will start to clump and brown, which looks wrong, but is not. Have faith.  It will soon start to liquefy and then you can stir a bit more regularly. Melt all the sugar to a deep golden brown (it’s not burning) before adding the butter, one tablespoon at a time. It may take some patience to work out some of those sugar lumps…

…but don’t worry; soon, it will appear, Wonka-style, a swirly, eye-popping, shimmering bubble of dark smooth soon to be caramel. When the sugar is melted and uniformly smooth, add the first tablespoon of butter (I just slice a cold stick of butter into eighths and count from there), stirring constantly to incorporate. Beware: adding butter will make the boiling sugar roil about merrily, bubble and spit, so to say, SO BE CAREFUL.

Quickly strain the cream and lavender mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a heat-safe bowl, and stir in the vanilla, take the sugar off the heat and slowly add the cream, again be careful as the cream can be even more boisterous than the butter. Stir constantly until the mixture is all smooth, it all happens quite quickly, to be honest, and pour into your parchment-papered pans.

Chill for a couple hours, then take them out of the fridge and cut in half. Roll up each half into a long log, and sprinkle with fleur de sel and crushed lavender buds. Super floral!

And then: presents.

M E R R Y

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