A popular feature on many Persian New Year tables, these honey, almond and saffron caramels are a speciality from Iran’s Isfahan region, known for its honey production. Often used to add an aromatic sweetness to Persian confectionery, there are many local honey varieties, including orange blossom, thyme and clover, some of which is still collected using traditional beekeeping methods - a combination of log hives, pottery hives and woven cylinders.
- 220 g (1 cup) caster sugar
- 60 g unsalted butter, roughly chopped
- 90 g (¼ cup) clear honey
- 140 g (1 cup) slivered almonds
- ½ tsp saffron threads, soaked in 1 tbsp boiling water
- 2 tsp rosewater (see Note)
- 70 g (½ cup) shelled pistachios, finely chopped
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time 1 hour
You will need a sugar thermometer for this recipe.
Line 2 trays with baking paper and set aside.
Place sugar, butter and honey in a deep saucepan over medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Add almonds and stir to combine. Cook, without stirring, for 6 minutes or until golden and temperature reaches 140°C on a sugar thermometer (the ‘soft crack’ stage; see Note). Remove from heat.
Immediately add dissolved saffron and water; be careful as the hot caramel will spit. Swirl to combine, then stir in rosewater.
Working quickly and carefully using two oiled spoons, spoon mixture onto the lined trays to form 6 cm discs. Scatter with pistachios and set aside for 1 hour to set. Caramels will keep in an airtight container for up to a week.
• Rosewater is available from Middle Eastern food shops and select supermarkets.
• The final texture of confectionary depends on its concentration of sugar. Sugar concentration increases as the temperature of the syrup rises. High temperatures result in hard sweets and low temperatures result in softer ones. The temperatures of syrup are classified by stages, which describe what happens when you drop a little syrup into iced water. For a soft crack, temperature should be between 135°C - 145°C.
Photography Chris Chen. Food preparation Phoebe Wood. Styling Vivien Walsh.
As seen in Feast magazine, September 2014, Issue 35.