“Titles stink and they’re too hard to figure out.” I was pouting from the moment I woke up yesterday morning. Gus said, “No. They’re an opportunity to tell your reader what you care about.” Oh. He’s so annoying and rational sometimes. My first cookbook goes to the printer next week (!!) and at the eleventh hour I’ve decided to fuss about the title. I’ve made extra work for my dear editors (I’m sure they’re cursing me), but I think it’s worth it. It may or may not change, but there have been a flurry of emails back and forth and now I can’t stop thinking/agonizing about it.
I’m also trying to think of a title for the gluten free book I’m working on. Does anyone have any brilliant ideas? Gluten Tag! is about the best I’ve got at this point. How do other people come up with such good ones? Remember that Seinfeld episode where Elaine is convinced that the original title of Tolstoy’s masterpiece was War, What is it Good For? I love Elaine. Hmm. Gluten, What is it Good For?
Recipe titles are also tricky. Gone are the days of mysterious and alluring names like Tuna Surprise. Now the style is to simply list all the ingredients and components in a recipe. I’m afraid that can get a little ridiculous after a while. I exhaust myself with those Triple-Layer-Browned-Butter-Tahini-Cake-with-Matcha-Cream-and-Balsamic-Vanilla-Strawberries kinds of titles. Does that kind of thing make your mouth water or simply put you to sleep? I wonder if that type of title is a crutch that I’m guilty of relying on.
You know who came up with a good title? Elizabeth Gilbert. Say what you will about Eat, Pray, Love but as far as I’m concerned, that’s one killer title. It’s clear. It’s honest. It’s cheesy but so is the book. The title is perfectly fitting. It’s easy to remember. And it says volumes with so few words. That is no easy feat. Brava, Ms. Gilbert. And, well, I just booked a flight to Rome so I’m pretty sure that title got into my head in more ways than one. I’m going to take a lesson from her.
I was originally going to call these caramels Salted Caramels with Toasted Pepitas, Orange, and Honey but I reconsidered. Titles are this week’s challenge and I’m working on making mine better. Today I have Salted Pepita Caramels for you. I hope you like them.
Salted Pepita Caramels
Makes 64 pieces
Neutral oil, such as safflower, for the pan
3/4 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup
3 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup water
1/2 toasted peptias
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling
1. Lightly oil an 8-inch square baking pan. Line the pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides. Lightly oil the parchment. Cut sixty-four 3-inch squares of parchment or wax paper for wrapping. (Yep. I know. That't the annoying part.)
2. In a small pot, or in a microwave-safe bowl, heat the cream and butter together until melted. (But don’t let it boil over!)
3. Attach a candy thermometer to a medium saucepan and heat the sugar, syrup, honey and the water over medium-high heat until the sugar turns deep amber and the temperature reaches 310°F swirling the pan to caramelize the sugar evenly, 6 to 8 minutes. In order to get an accurate reading, make sure the bulb of the candy thermometer is submerged in the sugar mixture. You may have to hold the pot tipped to the side while the sugar cooks. Remove from the heat and add the cream mixture. Be careful. This will bubble up and sputter.
4. Return the pan to the heat. Cook the sugar mixture over medium-high heat until the candy thermometer reads 248°F, 6 to 8 minutes. Quickly stir in the orange zest and kosher salt and pour into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the top with the pepitas and swirl them in gently. Let cool slightly and refrigerate to harden for about 1 to 2 hours.
5. Using the parchment, lift the block of caramel out of the baking pan and set on a cutting board. Sprinkle with flaky salt and cut into 1-inch squares with a long, sharp knife. Wrap each piece in a square of parchment paper. The caramels keep their shape best when stored in the fridge.