Orange CarAmels

Freshman year, my roommates and I spent a lot of time discussing pronunciation and American regional dialects. Living with one linguistics major and one most-likely linguistics major, it was pretty inevitable. I’d be sitting in my room flipping through Chinese flashcards, and there would be a knock at my door: an apologetic tap from Katie or a quick ratatat from Liz that made me jump out of my seat every time.

“Say ‘C O T.’ Ok, and say ‘C A U G H T.’” (Definitely two different pronounciations in my book)

“How do you say these words?” Katie hands me a scrap of paper: Dog. Log. Bog. Cog. (All the same to me!)

“Say ‘cherries’ again for me?” (I say cherries with an ‘e’ like ‘pen,’ but their midwestern cherries sound more like chair-ies).

The vowel in “Mary” versus “marry” was a point of contention. Liz said “sorry” like a Canadian. We watched videos of Asians talking like Lower East Side Jews and spent an entire stroll to the dining hall wrestling with the pronounciation of the name “Al.”

At some point, we arrived at the pronunciation of “caramel.” “Caramel” is one of my pet peeves. Not the food itself—patience, we’ll get to it!—but people who completely drop the second “a” and pronounce it “CARmel” instead. That irks me. The word “CARmel” just doesn’t exist. Everyone knows that “carmel” is pronounced “carMEL”; just ask my sister. I’m sure she doesn’t like it when people call her “CARmel.” I know how I would feel if people started saying “noA” instead of “NOa.” Everything would be simpler if people agreed to pronounce “caramel” the way it’s spelled.

No matter how you pronounce it, you’d agree that these Orange CarAmels (adapted from Not So Humble Pie’s recipe for Fleur de Sel Caramels) are perfect. Fleur de Sel Caramels, like salt water taffy, always strike me as perfect for summer. Salty-sweet desserts take me straight to salty ocean water and ice cream on the beach. These caramels aren’t salty, but the pop of orange flavor makes them summery to me.

These caramels have the perfect chew, not jaw-wrenchingly tough, but not too soft, so the thick slab of caramel can be cut into even chunks. This caramel is one of those substances on the border of liquid and solid; it cuts cleanly like a solid, but the candies relax into the creases of their wrappers.

If you’ve got air conditioning, or if you think you can stand the heat of a 250-degree pan of sugar, make these. No regrets.

I followed Not So Humble Pie’s recipe to the T, but substituted 1 teaspoon of orange extract for her vanilla extract and skipped the sea salt. I thought the orange flavor was perfect, but if you want a stronger orange flavor, add an extra ½ teaspoon of orange extract. You can also add a teaspoon of finely grated orange peel to the mixture of sugar, corn syrup, salt, and heavy cream. The orange peel partially breaks down with heat, and most of it will clump at the bottom of the saucepan when you pour it into the cake pan, so there’s no need to strain it out.

Another note: maybe my knives just aren’t sharp enough, but I had the most success cutting with a buttered serrated knife, sawing back and forth and applying light pressure, rather than trying to press right through with a regular knife like I do with marshmallows.

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