Just five years ago, gulping down a shot of then-obscure Fernet-Branca was most likely the result of losing a bet at the bar. Today, the bitter Italian digestif – think Jägermeister but more herbal – is more likely offered as a gift. You’ll often find fernet sipped and savored, mixed into a cocktail, or paired with boutique brands of cola. Or, less often, turned into candy.
Known in part for popularizing desserts-in-a-jar for restaurants like Citizen Public House, confection goddess Tracy Dempsey has taken to infusing her already popular caramels with a flitter of fernet.
Essentially just a sinful triad of butter, cream and sugar, caramels alone are not known for their complexity. But they’re excellent vehicles for deep and bitter flavor balances like the one presented in fernet. Counting myrrh, chamomile, cardamom and rhubarb amongst its proprietary blend of 20-odd herbs, Fernet-Branca proves the ideal bedmate for Dempsey’s caramels – so much more rewarding than the bourbon infusions trendy among modern caramelteers Use them as after-meal palate fresheners or pop them sporadically for a sugar rush.
The caramels (4 oz. bags for $5) are available at Tracy Dempsey’s retail bake shop.
— Shelby Moore
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