Honey, almond and saffron caramels (sohan asali) recipe
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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 Perisan confectionery, there are many local honey varieties, including orange blossom, thyme and clover, some of which is still collected using traditional beekeeping methods.
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 tbs 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
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). 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.
Photography Chris Chen. Food preparation Phoebe Wood. Styling Vivien Walsh.
As seen in Feast magazine, September 2014, Issue 35.
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