I have some issues with making caramels (caramel sauce however, I have down). I have tried quite a few recipes and none of them ever came out the way that I wanted them to. Last Christmas, my husband and I were making Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels and we followed the recipe to a tee, yet they were too hard. We tried it again to receive the same result. Others were too soft and never set. I figured that it had to be a faulty thermometer. I threw out my old one and bought a new one, same issues. I could not find the perfect caramel recipe. I was getting obsessed. Seriously obsessed.
The other day, I was on Foodgawker, and there it was, a recipe for Salted Chewy Caramels (thank you Julie!). They looked exactly as described. Chewy. Not hard, not gooey, but perfect. Today, I mustered up the courage to make them and to say that I am thrilled is an understatement. This recipe is easy to follow and if you watch carefully and take your time, you will get the same results that I did.
Caramel can be really tricky to make. There are a few hard and fast rules that you must follow:
1. Have everything ready and prepped before you start cooking the sugar. Prepare your pan, measure out all of your ingredients.
2. You may not stir your sugar. You can swirl it a bit in the pan, but if you stir it, the sugar will crystallize and then you will have to start all over.
3. Use a thermometer. Candy making is scientific and you need to reach the correct temperatures to ensure the correct end result. If you do not use temperatures, then your caramel will either be too hard or too soft.
4. Make sure that your full attention is on the caramel. Step away and I can assure you that it will burn. Hot sugar is very dangerous. Give it your undivided attention. I also make caramel when my children are not in the kitchen. I love to make candy and use hot sugar, but I like to err on the side of caution when it comes to little people in my kitchen when I am making it. I did not take all of the process pictures while I was making this because I was paying such careful attention that I forgot. Oops. I told you, obsessed.
edited to add: I have gotten a ton of emails and comments about this recipe. I need to stress how important it is to have an accurate thermometer. A few degrees (even 1 or 2) will change the outcome. If your caramels are too runny, they are not cooked to a hot enough temperature.
5 Tablespoon butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
sea salt for sprinkling
Line a 9×9 baking pan with foil and spray it liberally with cooking spray. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the heavy cream, vanilla and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently, and take off the heat. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, mix together the sugar, corn syrup, and water. Boil on the stove over medium-high heat. Do not stir.
I keep a cup of water and a pastry brush next to the pan to wipe the sides down so sugars do not crystallize. Boil until the sugar turns a light golden color and reaches 310 degrees.
When the sugar reaches 310 degrees, add the heavy cream mixture. It will bubble and boil. You can stir at this point and let it cook until it reaches 248 degrees.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.
Let the mixture set for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with sea salt. Let cool completely.
When the caramel has cooled completely, peel away the foil. Using a sharp knife coated with cooking spray, cut the caramels into small squares.
Cut parchment paper into pieces and wrap them twisting the sides closed.
How cute do they look? Homemade looking for sure. And because I have to package everything, add them to a half pound candy box.
The easiest packaging idea ever. I used a thick grosgrain red ribbon and secured it on the bottom with a glue dot.
I did the same thing with the super cute pink ribbon. I added a sticker on the bottom for extra staying power. And to make sure that I remember what is in the box.
Flip it over, and attach another sticker. Write your message. Easy. And super simple and cute. I made these for our friend Jenn. She is way too good to us and we are most grateful for her.
I cannot wait to see what everyone else baked up this week!
Week 5 Twelve Weeks of Christmas: