May your year be sweet!
blackstrap molasses caramels
adapted from an 1881 (no kidding) recipe from the New York Times, enigmatically signed "Fanny"
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, plus more for greasing baking dish
5 oz. chopped bittersweet chocolate
1 cup whole milk
1 cup blackstrap molasses
1 cup turbinado sugar
1 tsp French sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
butter an 8x8 baking dish & set aside. combine the butter, chocolate, milk, molasses & sugar in a pan & cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 248º on a candy thermometer, stirring frequently so the mixture doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. this took at least 40 minutes for me - slow is the way to go.
wearing an oven mitt so you don't get spattered with hot caramel, remove the pan from heat & add the vanilla to the hot mixture. give it a quick mix, then pour it into the buttered baking dish.
after they had cooled to room temperature, I cut it into small squares with a warm, sharp knife. since I planned to dip the caramels in chocolate, I put them back in an airtight container in a cool spot until ready to dunk, nicely separated on wax paper since they are extremely sticky little buggers that cement themselves to their neighbors given half a chance. after dipping in bittersweet chocolate, sprinkle with a tad of sea salt - I find the saltiness to be a fantastic counterpoint to the sweet molasses, giving it a deep licorice-y character.