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salted caramel recipe

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. 

salted caramel recipe5 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

salted caramel recipeLine a 9×9 baking pan with foil and spray it liberally with cooking spray.  Set aside.

salted caramel recipeMelt 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.

salted caramel recipeIn a large saucepan, mix together the sugar, corn syrup, and water.  Boil on the stove over medium-high heat.  Do not stir.

salted caramel recipeI 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.

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.

salted caramel recipePour the mixture into the prepared pan.

salted caramel recipeLet the mixture set for 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with sea salt.  Let cool completely.

salted caramel recipeWhen the caramel has cooled completely, peel away the foil.  Using a sharp knife coated with cooking spray, cut the caramels into small squares.

salted caramel recipeCut parchment paper into pieces and wrap them twisting the sides closed.

salted caramel recipeHow cute do they look?  Homemade looking for sure.  And because I have to package everything, add them to a half pound candy box.

salted caramel recipeThe easiest packaging idea ever.  I used a thick grosgrain red ribbon and secured it on the bottom with a glue dot.

salted caramel recipeI 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.

salted caramel recipeFlip 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.

salted caramel recipeI cannot wait to see what everyone else baked up this week!

salted caramel recipe
Week 5 Twelve Weeks of Christmas:

Salted Caramels [Week 5 of 12 Weeks of Christmas]

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Line a 9×9 baking pan with foil and spray it liberally with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. 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.
  3. In a large saucepan, mix together the sugar, corn syrup, and water. Boil on the stove over medium-high heat. Do not stir.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.
  7. Let the mixture set for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with sea salt. Let cool completely.
  8. When the caramel has cooled completely, peel away the foil. Using a sharp knife coated with cooking spray, cut the caramels into small squares.
  9. Cut parchment paper into pieces and wrap them twisting the sides closed.
http://bakedbree.com/salted-caramels-week-5-of-12-weeks-of-christmas

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95 Responses to Salted Caramels [Week 5 of 12 Weeks of Christmas]

  1. Sara says:

    I love Caramels!!! I’m bookmarking this recipe and will attempt to make these delicious looking caramels over the weekend! Thank you for posting!

  2. Salty, chewy caramels…these look amazing!! We are HUGE caramel fans…and the packaging is just too cute!

  3. April says:

    I have never tried caramels, I think I may have to try them now. They look yummy!

  4. Lee Ann says:

    I have been looking for a recipe for Salted Caramels and I too had a bad experience a few months ago. I’m making these for sure! Thanks for the recipe, I can’t wait to try them!

  5. Lisa says:

    Hi Bree! I LOVE caramels but have always been too scared to make them. Thanks for inspiring a bit of confidence in me. A couple of questions… I don’t have a candy thermometer yet. Do you have any brands that you would recommend or ones that you would avoid? Anything in particular to look for in a thermometer?

    Also, I plan on making holiday goodies to give to people this year. How far in advance do you think these can be made?

    • bakedbree says:

      I use a cheap grocery store one right now. I had a few digital ones and I kept breaking them. I never replaced the grocery store one and I really like it. I think that these could be made a few days at least.

  6. Lisa says:

    Wow, now this is impressive. Who wouldn’t want to receive a little bag of these for Christmas? I know I would. Thanks for the tips on making caramel. Maybe one day I’ll muster up the courage to make these myself. Don’t forget to check back on my blog next Monday to enter my CSN giveaway.

  7. You are lucky you don’t live in our city. Otherwise I would be knocking on your door every other day for some treats like these! Your lucky kids!

  8. Sue says:

    I’m sure the salt puts these caramels over the top!

  9. Beverly says:

    I just love your recipes and the lovely presentations you use! This particular recipe is definitely going on my list of gifts to make for the holiday season!

  10. I have been looking for such a recipe for quite a while. Great idea to give away caramels. Thanks for sharing.

  11. danielle says:

    i just made these, and they taste SO GOOD. they’re buttery and have an amazing chewy texture.
    i used a little to make a few caramel apples and that worked out quite well too. (a little more chewy than normal caramel apples but they are 1000x better than store bought) the only thing is that i burned it just a little, so there are some burny flecks but i decided to try it anyway and you cant taste them. so it doesnt look perfect but it still tastes fine. thanks for the recipe :)

  12. There is something so addictive about salted caramels. I love the way you packaged them.

  13. CrustaBakes says:

    This sound like THE recipe! i love the packaging idea too. Its so pretty!

  14. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sacramento Connect, Holly Hardin. Holly Hardin said: Salted Caramel Recipe: This Salted Caramel Recipe gives step-by-step instructions and tips for making caramels. Su… http://bit.ly/bX39ll […]

  15. […] I’ll leave you with this week’s Christmas garlands ideas and Baked Bree’s ‘perfect Salted Caramels‘ recipe for a chewylicious Christmas […]

  16. Can’t wait to try this recipe! Yum!!!

  17. Katie H. says:

    your caramels look delicious — very pretty! have you tried subbing honey for corn syrup? you can definitely taste the honey, which is great, I think — especially combined with lavender or rosemary.

    • bakedbree says:

      That sounds delicious. I saw a recipe last night that used honey and I pulled it out. I will have to try it. I love anything with lavender.

  18. Lyn says:

    I tried this recipe today. While mine tasted sooo yummy, I ended up with caramel sauce. It did not set :( Now looking back at your photos mine was a lot lighter in color. Does this probably mean in the first stage I didn’t bring it to high enough temperature? I was using a grocery store candy thermometer.

    • bakedbree says:

      That is most likely why. The sugar needs to get hot enough to be able to harden when cooled.

    • James says:

      Hi Lyn,

      It’s always a good idea to check your thermometer to make sure it is accurate. The simplest way to cheek is boil some water and insert your thermometer. It should read 212 degrees, if it doesn’t adjust your cooking time accordingly when making the caramels.

      Bree, thanks for a great caramel recipe!

  19. Cair says:

    Hi Bree,

    I told you I would be back!

    I made the salted caramels on Sunday and they are wonderful! This was my test batch, but it was good enough to give some to my neighbor who is a salted caramel fiend. She gave them 2 thumbs up. Thanks so much for posting this recipe. My only change for next time will be to use coarse salt on top of the caramels instead of the fine sea salt that I had on hand. Still tasted right, just would have been better with the texture of coarse sea salt.

  20. Pam says:

    I tried these before school was out so my kiddos could share with thier teachers for Christmas. They turned out so very yummy. I was concerned at first because the color wasn’t as dark as the picture but the temperature was right. They were so good a friend ate about 6 in just a few min. I had tried to make caramels before but they never turned out. Thanks for the recipe, I am very impressed and this has been added to my holiday candy list! BTW, I love your site!!

  21. […] made yummy salted caramels from Baked Bree’s blog.  She is phenomenal.  If you haven’t been hooked by her wonderful blog, you have never […]

  22. Elise says:

    I made these twice this weekend, once with honey and once with corn syrup. The first time (with the honey) they tasted slightly burned. The second time I made them I only cooked to about 305 and they still tasted burned. It was a brand new thermometer, do you have a suggestion? Other than the slight burned taste, I loved them! :)

    • bakedbree says:

      I am not sure what to tell you. It should not taste burnt at all. I have made these several times and have never had that taste. Let me do a little research and see if I can come up with some answers for you.

    • I just made these (with corn syrup) and they have a burnt flavor as well. They do look dark, but they’re the perfect consistency. This is my 3rd attempt (and 3rd recipe) making caramels, and this is by far the best results- I can actually cut it without it falling apart!

      On thing I did notice is that other recipes only say to cook the sugar/water/corn syrup mixture until 248; this was the first recipe I’ve seen that takes it to 310. I’ll definitely try this recipe again, though. I have to think about what might need tweaked.

      • bakedbree says:

        I have been thinking a lot about this because I want you to have the same results as I do. What color is your sugar when it reaches 310? Is it really dark? Mine isn’t, so maybe you need a new thermometer. The sugar is the consistency that it is because it is because it reaches 310. That is the hard crack and caramelized sugar stage. I use a cheap 7 dollar grocery store one. I had expensive ones and I kept breaking them.

        • Sorry for my delay in looking up your reply!

          I think at 310 it was dark, but I can’t remember how dark. I actually have just bought a new thermometer because I thought my old one wasn’t working properly. I just bought another carton of cream, so I’ll give it another shot. I might only cook it until 300.

          On a different note, I just bought an oven thermometer because I was curious to see how off my oven was even though I haven’t had any major problems with baking/cooking anything. When it’s had time to preheat, it looks like it can be off by almost 50 degrees! I haven’t adjusted for it yet because there haven’t been any issues, but I’ll be keeping an eye on it.

          • bakedbree says:

            Hope that it works out for you.

          • Melissa says:

            Maybe you are taking the heat up too quickly and that is why they are burning? I had mine on med or on the lower side of med. I use an electric stove too. When mine reached 310 it was a nice golden brown, but another minute or two and they might have been too dark. Also my sugar mix didn’t brown evenly. About 2/3rds of it was the right color and the rest was lighter but when I poured in the cream and stirred it all came together beautifully. I have heard that humidity can be a factor. I made my caramels on a sunny warm, not humid day. Hope that helps!

  23. Melissa says:

    I made these this week and posted the story on my blog.
    http://shootsandroots.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/salted-caramels/
    They came out wonderful! Thanks for the great tips!

  24. Caylin says:

    Great recipe– I made these for all my valentines because I felt they expressed my love best… salty and sweet!

  25. Kristy Dale says:

    Well, I was so excited to try these as I am a huge fan of salted carmels. Both times the end product turned out much lighter in color than your pictures here. Any suggestions? I followed the instructions to a T, since I usually mess things up.

    • bakedbree says:

      Cook the sugar a little longer? As long as it is the right texture, I wouldn’t worry so much about the color.

  26. Chloe says:

    I think I may have one potential solution for those with a lighter color result. My first batch was very light in color as well and didn’t quite have the burnt sugar flavor caramel should have. It was more like a creamy, buttery, sugary treat with still the proper texture. Since I am a total candie rookie I was thrilled when my second batch turned out absolutely perfect! Here was the problem. On the first go round I used a saucepan for the sugar mixture that was too wide. The thermometer did not have enough liquid to read temperature without touching the bottom of the pan. If it is touching the bottom of the pan it will read temperature sooner than it should. Hence the sugar mixture is not cooked enough and pale in color. Try a narrower, taller saucepan next time and make sure your thermometer is not touching the bottom.

  27. have you ever doubled this? Wondering if it will work!?

  28. Craig Petrocelli says:

    Just made these with my boyfriend! hope they turn out as fabulous as they look

  29. Richard (my wife's husband) says:

    “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.”

    I have a question about this step, please. Does the sugar mixture need to cool before adding the cream? What if, after adding the cream, the mixture is already at or above 248?

    • bakedbree says:

      No it doesn’t, as long as it stays hot, you are good. It just needs to reach that temp, otherwise, the caramel will not be the right texture.

  30. slvyrabbit says:

    Cooks Illustrated said swirling the sugar in the pan w/out a spoon is allowed. But the water technique works well too. It is smelling very good! I am excited to have everyone taste them!

  31. Kristina says:

    This is my first time making caramels with my mom, we did the recipe in a smaller batch so half of each ingredient, no corn syrup, and added hazelnuts on half of it. Looks good/smells good so far, we’re almost done, we’re adding melted chocolate (: Thank you!!

  32. Michelle DiMerurio says:

    I’ve just discovered this recipe and decided to give it a try. I think I followed the recipe closely enough. Beautiful color, just like the photos, but even after a couple of hours of cooling in the pan, it appears they aren’t going to set up into soft, chew candies. I have a pan full of thick sauce. Any other suggestions? My candy thermometer did read the correct temperatures, so I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong. How long should it take to set up?

    • bakedbree says:

      My guess is that it did not come to temperature. I have gone through a ton of thermometers because of this. I would make sure that your thermometer is reading correctly and try again.

  33. Joanna says:

    OK: I am going for it, probably Wednesday night after work. Have seen everyone else’s kudos for both the recipe and the adorable packaging. I, too, would like to package these for my children’s teachers.
    1) WHere does one buy 1/2 lb candy boxes?
    2. How many 1/2 pund boxes will this recipe make?
    3) My candy thermometer hasn’t been used in awhile — probably 2-3 years. Should I buy a new one or simply try it?
    I am really excited, albeit somewhat INTIMIDATED!

    Finally (last question for now), do you have a great recipe for caramel sauce that I can make to give as gifts in small mason jars? I love caramel sauce too, just would like someone’s endorsement of a super recipe. THANKS!!! Joanna

  34. Jennifer says:

    I have the same problem with making caramels, they either burnt or too soft and never set, and haven’t found a perfect one. I really want to find a perfect recipe for my husband’s wish list is to have soft chewy caramels but not the ones that sticks to your teeth.
    This recipe sounds very similar to ones i found on food network so my question is does the caramels stick to your teeth when chewing?
    Thanks for your feedback

    • bakedbree says:

      I don’t think so? I enjoy these very much, but your problem sounds like you are not getting to the right temperature. Buy a new thermometer or at least calibrate it.

  35. Heather says:

    I’m not sure I can thank you enough for the recipe and pictures here! I’ve made these (though I use more sea salt ;) about a dozen times in the last couple months. They really make a great gift, and good thing, too. Lord knows I could totally eat a whole batch of this myself embarrassingly quickly!

    • bakedbree says:

      Me too! I am making a few batches tomorrow. Love this recipe. I have also made it with whiskey and they are even more amazing.

  36. Michelle M says:

    I just made these caramels and am currently waiting for them to cool completely. While I haven’t had a chance to cut into them yet, I taste-tested the remnants on the spatual, and I can already say that they are amazing!!!

    • bakedbree says:

      I am so glad Michelle. I am making a few batches tomorrow.

      • Michelle M says:

        So . . . I guess I spoke a little too soon. Yes, the caramel tastes delicious, but there is a problem. Judging from the pictures, it looks like the caramels are supposed to cool and become semi-solid (chewy, but still remain it’s shape). This didn’t happen for me. I left the caramels out over night, and they are still gooey. I followed the recipe to a T. Do you have any ideo what could be going wrong with this?

        • bakedbree says:

          They were not cooked to a hot enough temperature. Make sure that you are using a candy thermometer. Even a degree or two can make a difference in temperature here. Calibrate your thermometer or get a new one.

  37. I too tried the recipe.twice. Both times the carmel never set up and I ended up with a tub of carmel sauce….bummed!

    • bakedbree says:

      I would get a new thermometer. If it is not becoming solid, it is because the sugar is not being cooked to a hot enough temperature. I made these a few days ago, and they turned out perfect. A few degrees (even 1 to 2) will make a difference in the consistency.

  38. sylvia says:

    I made these and they came out perfect and taste even better and creamier if allowed to sit a few days. I sent some to my niece in Washington and her husband me he almost lost a finger getting a few from her. Lololol. The secret is once you reach the 310′ degree temp let it boil a little longer at this temp.

  39. […] thanks to Julie from My Cooking Adventure and Bree from Baked Bree for their wonderful recipes and caramel expertise.  Follow their guidelines and you can’t go […]

  40. These caramels look delicious! I love home made candies!

  41. Jessica says:

    Man Alive!! These are, well, PERFECT! I have been looking for a great caramel recipe and this one is definitely it. I followed your directions exactly and came out with an amazing result. I am so excited for my husband and children to try these. I am also excited to use these in many other baked goods and candies. The pics were also incredibly helpful. Thank you so much for this. Keep the deliciousness coming!

  42. Sara McKiness says:

    This recipe turned out perfect!!! Thank you for the clear step by step plan, and for the wonderful pictures :D I will definitely make these again :D

  43. Leeanne says:

    I’ve never seen caramel be cooked to such a high temperature and was wondering where you live (if you don’t mind saying) to see it that changes things? Thanks!

  44. heather says:

    just wanted to say thank you for this recipe. i tried martha stewart’s “foolproof” recipe and it didn’t work – just a gooey, yellow mess. then i found this recipe and made just a half-batch to test it out – worked perfectly. amazing caramels, perfect consistency. your recipe beat martha’s! impressive :)

  45. Emily Pauline Jane Cooper says:

    Hi Bree

    Just found your website and love it! Just a quickie – how long do these last? I like to prepare in advance!

    Many thanks

    Emily

    • bakedbree says:

      As long as the temperature stays constant, I would say about good two weeks. I sent them to my sister once and they got cold during the mail and seized.

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