Neat freaks, watch out: This recipe's a little messy. That's because homemade Milk Duds are best dipped by hand, which lets you coat all the pieces in a thin chocolate shell without spending an eternity fishing each one out with a fork. But really, there are worse fates than being covered in your favorite dark chocolate. Such as living without a batch of chewy, chocolaty, bittersweet caramels.
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- Cooking over medium heat ensures that the sugar completely dissolves before the water boils off.
- Minimal caramelization matches the flavor of real Milk Duds.
- A generous dose of cream makes the caramels soft but chewy.
- Coating the caramels by hand is super fast and keeps the shell thin.
- For the Caramel:
- 4 ounces water (1/2 cup; 115g)
- 8 1/2 ounces sugar (1 1/4 cups; 240g)
- 3/4 teaspoon (3g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume or use the same weight
- 6 ounces heavy cream (3/4 cup; 170g)
- For the Chocolate Coating:
- 8 ounces finely chopped dark or milk chocolate (1 1/3 cups; 225g), such as Callebaut or Valrhona; do not use chips
For the Caramel: Nestle a large sheet of parchment paper into an 8-inch cake pan to roughly cover the bottom and sides. In a 2-quart stainless steel saucier, combine water, sugar, and salt over medium heat. Stir with a fork until sugar is fully dissolved and syrup comes to a rolling boil, about 4 minutes. Simmer, without stirring, until syrup is honey-gold, roughly 7 minutes. Immediately add cream and reduce heat to medium-low, adjusting the heat lower if needed to keep caramel from foaming too high. (This is more likely on an electric stove due to residual heat.) Stirring constantly with a heat-resistant spatula, simmer until caramel registers 260°F (127°C) on a digital thermometer, about 7 minutes. Immediately pour into prepared pan, cover tightly with foil, and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.
Peel caramel from parchment, transfer to a cutting board, and cut into 50 pieces (approximately 1/4 ounce or 7g each) with a sharp knife; don't worry about being too precise with their shape or size. If you like, use your fingers to mold the pieces into a more oval, Milk Dud–like shape.
For the Chocolate Coating: Line a baking sheet with parchment. Temper chocolate according to one of the methods described here. Fold all caramel pieces into tempered chocolate. With a clean hand, scoop up pieces like handfuls of marbles, then slide each one over your index finger with your thumb into your other hand (think of how you'd dole out a handful of M&M's) and arrange on prepared baking sheet. Let stand at room temperature until fully set, about 15 minutes, then transfer to an airtight container.