by Autumn Carpenter
This recipe is quite possibly my favorite of all my Grandmother Mildred Brand’s candy recipes. The caramel is easy to make, buttery, and chewy. These caramels are delightful on their own or make wonderful caramels dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt. Use this basic caramel recipe for caramel pecan patties, wrap apples or pretzels, or use in any candy recipe that calls for caramel. After the caramel hardens, the caramels can be wrapped in wax paper or plastic wrap, dipped in melted candy coating or melted and tempered real chocolate. The finished caramels are firm enough to be dipped but are soft when bitten. Also included in this section are soft caramels and recipes using caramel to create delicious treats such as caramel chocolate-covered apples and pretzels, caramel pecan patties and more.
You can vary the viscosity of the caramels by adjusting the cooking temperature. For hard caramel, remove the pan from the heat when it is fa our to six degrees higher than the recipe’s instructions. For a soft caramel, remove the pan from the heat when it is six to eight degrees less than the recipe’s instructions. Soft caramels should be used in candy molds lined with chocolate or as a dessert topping as they are not firm enough to hold their shape. It is important to test your thermometer for accuracy on the day the caramel will be cooked to ensure your caramels will be the appropriate temperature. Also, stir constantly to ensure your caramel will not burn or have flecks of color.These recipes and instructions were taken from Autumn’s Best Selling Candy book, The Complete Photo Guide to Candy Making.
- 1 cup butter
- 2 1/4 cups light brown sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup of light corn syrup
- 14 oz of sweetened condensed milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Line an 8” pan with parchment paper. In a 4 quart saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar, salt, and corn syrup. Add the sweetened condensed milk. Cook the mixture to 248°, stirring constantly.
- When the caramel reaches 248°, remove the pan from the stove. Allow the bubbling to subside. Stir in vanilla.
- Pour the caramel in the parchment lined pan. Allow the caramel several hours or overnight to firm.
- Use a dough cutter to loosen the sides that are not lined with parchment. Lift the parchment out of the pan.
- Cut the caramel using a buttered dough cutter. Keep the caramels from touching one another after they are cut or they will begin to stick together.
Salted caramels are made using the above basic recipe, then dipped in melted chocolate. Before the chocolate is set, the dipped caramels are sprinkled with sea salt. For sea salt caramels not enrobed with chocolate, sprinkle sea salt on the warm caramel approximately 15 minutes after the caramel has been spread in the pan.
The sea salt is powerful, just a sprinkling of salt is all that is needed to obtain a sweet and salty caramel.
Prepare the Buttery Caramels according the recipe. After the caramel is firm, butter a dough cutter and cut the caramel into squares. Dip each square into melted candy coating or melted and tempered chocolate. Immediately sprinkle with sea salt.
Shelf Life, Storage, and Gift Giving
Caramels will last for two to three weeks. After this time, the caramels may become sugary.
Caramels not enrobed in chocolate will stick to one another if they are not wrapped. Waxed paper is ideal. Pre-cut sheets of waxed paper are available at candy supply stores for convenience. Plastic wrap will also keep the caramels from sticking together. Wrap individual pieces or the caramels will stick together. Keep the wrapped caramels at room temperature. Do not place caramels in the refrigerator, as it may cause the caramels to become sticky. Caramels dipped in chocolate have a slightly longer shelf life and freeze well.
After you make these carmels please let me know what you think about the recipe. I look forward to hearing from you!