Thursday, 10 December 2009

Salted Caramel Cups (and Sardines on the side)

From today only sardines produced in Cornwall are to be allowed to be called Cornish sardines after receiving European Union protected status. It's the 40th British food to get the status....Cornish Clotted Cream is also protected.

I like the sense of pride that goes with the PGI status. The fact that other places are desperate to recreate something that originates from a particular area. There's nothing better than eating Welsh lamb and mint sauce in Cardiff or Scottish smoked salmon and brown bread while on a city break in Edinburgh.

It's made me think about which recipes I am most proud of and guard most closely to my heart. The ones I would give PGI (Protected Gastronomic Issyisms) Status.

Today marked the beginning of Christmas as Margaret (the wife of our former weatherman) delivered her yearly supply of mince pies. Crumbly, short and butter pastry encasing mincemeat laced with more booze than St Austell brewery.

As I ate my first (of many) I realised my Christmas list is looking far too tidy and unloved. These are my favourite festive creations. I first tried them when we used to organise Blue Peter Bring and Buy Sales on Scilly (remember them??) My best friend's mum made them and I stole the recipe. They are truly delicious, sweet and salty. If you read the recipe and think to yourself "I'll swap the salted butter for unsalted butter." Don't. It's wrong.

Salted Caramel Cups....(Makes 15 to 20 depending on how generous you are)

1x 250g/8oz bar dark chocolate
2 tbsp golden syrup
50g/2oz salted butter
2 tbsp dried milk powder
1 bag chocolate buttons

Small foil cake cases

Boil a pan of water and put a bowl over the top. Melt the chocolate slowly. Paint the foil cases with a layer of the melt chocolate. This takes ages. Only do this as a labour of love. If you are in a rush and you've got twenty thousand jobs to do, children screaming, husband grumpy then stop. Have a cup of tea. Don't bother. They taste great but you can buy mini chocolate cups in Marks and Spencers.

Pop them in the fridge. When they've set do what you just did all over again. When the second layer has set, put the butter and syrup in a small pan. Stir and let it come to the boil. Then sieve in the milk powder. (I normally can't be bothered. Then I have lumpy caramel and have to start again). So sieve it and give it a good stir. It will go a lovely autumn gold colour. Take it off the heat and leave for a couple of minutes.

Pour a couple of teaspoons in each cup. Now at this point you should top them with a chocolate button. But when I was at Sainsburys I noticed my favourite wine was back on special offer. (Wollemi, 3 bottles for £10, it's Chardonnay which I normally hate but this is delicious.) Anyway I got distracted and forgot. So if you've bought buttons place them in the middle of the caramel. Or maybe a toasted hazelnut? I used some leftover chocolate. I mixed a tsp of coffee with a tsp of hot water. I mixed it into the chocolate. It instantly thickened and I rolled little amounts into balls the size of a pea and flattened them. They were delicious!

These only last about two days before the chocolate goes funny but I find they only last about an hour because they are addictive!
PS. I just remembered. Last year my work collegue put a whole one of these in his mouth. He didn't realise you can't eat the foil. You have to peel the foil off......


  1. I am so naive - I've always assumed that Cornish clotted cream and sardines come to that were produced (fished) in Cornwall - aghhh - will the madness never end!

  2. Beautiful Cornish produce!