Making Caramels

We have been on a food roll. Haven’t we all? I put the weekly cooking curriculum activity with our friend’s daughter in her hands. For 11 years old she is quite astute in the kitchen so I asked her what she wanted to make. The answer was caramels.

I have never made caramels before. I have caramelized things but never made the candy from scratch. It is not that difficult and a fun Science project. As always a few lessons learned mostly on the consistency of the caramel.

Key is having a candy thermometer. Without it you are toast.

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup heavy cream (or more to make them softer)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8×8-inch baking dish (or similar size)
  • Parchment paper
  • 2-quart saucepan
  • 4-quart saucepan
  • Instant-read thermometer or candy thermometer
  • Spatula
  • Whisk
  • Wax Paper for wrapping but we used Parchment

Line an 8×8-inch baking dish with parchment paper so that excess paper hangs over the edges. Coat the parchment and the sides of the baking dish with cooking spray. You can use bigger if you don’t have that size.

Put the cream, butter, and salt in the 2-quart saucepan and heat over low heat until the butter melts. Remove from the heat, but keep the pan close by.

Put the sugar, corn syrup, and water in the larger 4-quart saucepan (must use a big saucepan because when you add in the cream mixture it grows). Stir until the sugar is evenly moistened and it forms a thick, grainy paste. Wipe down the sides of the pan with a damp pastry brush so there are no sugar crystals above the surface of the sugar mixture. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan so that the heat sensor is immersed in the sugar. Do not stir the sugar after this point.

Cook the sugar mixture over medium to medium-high heat. Let the sugar syrup come to a boil without stirring. Around 250°F, the sugar syrup will turn transparent and boil rapidly. It can go up to 325 but we took it off at 250 and it was the call.

Turn off the heat under the sugar syrup. While whisking gently, slowly pour the warm cream and butter mixture into the sugar syrup. The sugar syrup will bubble up and triple in size. Stop whisking once all the milk and butter mixture has been added. Here is where there is an opportunity to think about change. More cream makes a softer caramel. Next go around I would do 1 1/2 cups cream.

Heat the caramel back up to 250 by returning the pan to medium to medium-high heat. Let the caramel come to a boil without stirring It will start off as a soft buttery yellow and eventually darken to reddish-brown caramel. Remove from the heat when the caramel reaches 245°F to 250°F.

Stir in the vanilla. Now pour into the pan. Tap the pan to get rid of the bubbles. It should set for about two hours. We put it in the fridge to move forward and the caramel was set in 10 minutes.

Cut into bit sized pieces and wrap in parchment paper. Great gift or put in the candy bowl. Watch out for your teeth when chewing. 🙂