Sugar Cube Bones and Earl Grey Caramels

Earl Grey

I think there is sugar in my bone marrow, because I’m only sweet when I’m broken.  I think it’s something in me that’s not whole until it’s all wrong.  And it’s all wrong due to my perspective, my honest attempt at dissolving it all.  Sugar cubes in a horse’s mouth, small satisfactions to calm a beast down. Are there two polarities to God?  Creation and destruction?  The catalyst and the dissolution?  Bookends of the Testaments and the circle of life.  Are they two separate or one in the same.  Does Ouroboros live a little more closely to our heart than we thought?  I ask myself these questions as I lay in bed and try to fall asleep.  I did my nightly routine of reading with my head propped up by two pillows, my face washed with cold water and Cetaphil, a face cream prescribed by my doctor, and a half-hearted prayer between barely-parted lips.  In the end, it doesn’t matter much.  In the end, I still wake up the next day and drive to work in a leased car and avoid people’s eyes until coffee and small talk to wake my tired mind.

Why am I so tired? Seems to be a common response when I look in the mirror.  My mother’s skin which I’ve inherited never seem to give me the tired look I want and when I say I’m exhausted, people think I’m lying.  No energy to walk the dogs, no energy to apply to new jobs.  No energy for sex or dishes, laundry or reading.  Some days I’m prone to moping, some days aren’t mine at all and I feel guilty if I try to reclaim them as my own.

But I know how necessary my emotions are and I resent the cyclical nature of the beast when I’m tired and can’t talk, but if I keep silent, I’m all the more tired.  Everything in me churns when I’m upset and I’m prone to making scenes at Wal-Mart if the moment calls for it.  The last week, I’ve had to remind myself and others that I am a human being, speaking those exact words into a phone and into my boyfriend’s face.  I think the only human thing about me when I get this tired is that I still have emotions, can raise my voice to declare them, speak them into existence and then to validate my feelings.  I cherish those moments of clarity.  It scares me all the same.

I used to sit at the precipice of decisions and so cavalierly go towards the path of least resistance.  I'm realizing the mistake in that, in not voicing my opinion, my life, my passions into the universe.  Even if it echoed ad infinitum, even if it beat with the same intensity as my heart after sex, even if it was a duck-call and barked once into the silent creek, at least I would know I said my fears out loud.  For the first time, so it would be easier to do it again and again. Instead I can complain for five days about something that could have been done a week ago and time isn't even comprehensible to me when I get like that.   But I'd rather just distract myself and give myself a pacifier before bed.

And that's what these caramels are.  They're a way to distract me in the mundanity of stirring the mixture for minute and minute.  They're a way to satisfy every aching tooth I have.  They're a way to get compliments at work and from Nolan, whom I've been demanding of lately.  They're a way to see science unfold before me and know that the whole world is catalyst and inhibitor.  And I should learn to love it and seek relics of that unkind truth.

Enjoy, they're my own.  A synesthesiatic blending of spotting blends of tea my mother sent me and remembering an old caramel recipe she sent me when she first started at the candy store.  I added some layers of flavor and mellowed out the butter.  But it's a distraction all the same.  A science lesson and a kiss-and-make-up type of gift.  A bit of myself in every bite.

Earl Grey and Bergamot Caramels (with dark chocolate and sea salt)

Earl Grey and Bergamot Caramels with Sea Salt and Dark Chocolate

Chewy and melty, these caramels are a treat for breakfast, dessert, or as an "I'm-nervous-so-I'm-eating" kind of snack.  I suggest wrapping them individually in parchment paper, so they can be transported and portion-controlled. I gave a couple alternatives for toppings in the parentheticals.


  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons loose tea leaves (about 5 tea bags, less if you don't want the flavor as strong)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 stick butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 half 'n half
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup


  1. Prepare a 9x9 pan with parchment paper and make sure all sides are well-buttered
  2. In a small saucepan, heat cream and tea leaves on a simmer for about five minutes until color is golden and leaves clump together
  3. Strain infused cream into a four-quart saucepan (it is okay to have some leaves in the cream, it'll only add to the flavor); alternatively, take tea leaves out and transport cream into a bigger pan
  4. Mix remaining ingredients into saucepan and heat on medium-high.  As it heats up, it will bubble and get sticky.  Keep stirring during this period until it begins to boil.  Do not stir for another fifteen minutes or so and let it remain in a controlled boil.  The consistency will change throughout the process.
  5. When the temperature gets to 242 degrees Fahrenheit, remove from heat and pour directly into prepared pan (You can top with flaked sea salt here)
  6. Cool at room temperature for a couple hours until completely set and can press finger into tops and do not burn yourself
  7. (Here, you can then pour some melted dark chocolate over top and some sea salt and allow to cool before cutting)
  8. Cut into desired pieces, wrap in parchment paper.