This year for Valentine’s Day, I thought I would try my hand at some candy making by fixing my wife some homemade salted caramels. I came away with two distinct impressions.
First, homemade caramel is way easier to make than I thought. Second, I made way too much for a gift.
So, after some fiddling, I came up with a small-batch recipe. It’s great for gifts, and makes soft, wonderful candies.
As always, what is next is an in-depth explanation of how to make the recipe. However, if you want a TL;DR version, just skip down to the bottom.
Quick thing: I have included affiliate links to Amazon below – it won’t affect your price to click them, but I do get a kickback. I promise that my links are only to be helpful and offer products that would be useful with the recipe.
So, on to the ingredients.
You will need sugar, heavy cream, vanilla, light corn syrup, water, unsalted butter, and some kind of flaky salt. I will also recommend you use some measuring cups that include ounce measures like the oxo ones we have. Some of the measurements are for an eighth of a cup, which is two fluid ounces.
Click on the photo of the measuring cups if you want some of your own!
You will also need some parchment paper, some kind of non-stick spray, a thermometer that can handle temperatures in the 300s, and some sort of dish to support the parchment paper (here I’m using a pyrex baking dish). I also highly recommend using a plunger-style measuring cup like this one.
If you want to get one of your own, clicking on the image will take you to a listing of one on Amazon.
Step By Step
Now, let’s get cooking.
First, put an eighth of a cup (2 ounces) of water in a pot, along with a quarter-teaspoon of vanilla and a half-cup of sugar.
The next ingredient is the corn syrup. This is where the plunger cup comes in handy.
Measure out an eighth of a cup/2 ounces of corn syrup, then add it to the mix. If you are using a candy thermometer, you will need to set it up in the pot here.
With the plunger cup, you just push the plunger back in, the scrape off the extra with a spatula. It just saves a lot of scraping at a measuring cup.
Mix all of those ingredients until smooth, then turn the heat on to medium. Once it starts boiling, set a timer for 10 minutes. Then just let it go. You don’t need to stir it or anything.
So, the next step is to combine three eighths of a cup (or, way more simply, 3 ounces) of heavy cream with 3 tablespoons of the unsalted butter.
I use a little trick that I like to use and put them together in a coffee mug. It makes things way easier later when adding the mix to the pot.
Anyway, microwave the cream/butter mix until it melts (only about 30 seconds if you stir it up afterward).
Then, it’s time to prep the parchment paper and bowl. I just press a fair-size piece down into the bowl and crease any folds that happen. Spritz the inside with non-stick spray.
Back to the pot. Once the timer goes off, you need to check if it is done. You can tell when it’s a golden (caramel) color, and when a thermometer reads over 320 F. If it isn’t up to temperature, just let it go for a little longer then check again.
You really need a thermometer for this, so if you don’t have one yet you can click on the image to the left to go to Amazon.
Once it’s done, it’s time to add in the cream/butter. One thing: don’t do it all at once. It bubbles up a ton. Instead, just add a bit at a time, then brusquely stir it until it gets smoother. Then add some more and stir, then more and stir, and so on until it is completely combined.
From there, it’s boiling time again.
The butter and would have brought the temperature way down, so boil it some more until it gets back up to 240 F.
Now we go back to the paper-lined dish. Pour the boiling caramel into the parchment paper, scraping the sides of the pot with a spatula. I knocked on the sides for a bit to get the bubbles out of the caramel.
Set a timer for 15 minutes and let the caramel cool.
When the timer goes off, sprinkle the top with the flaky salt. Then put the whole thing in the fridge to cool and set. It should take at least four hours, though you can just leave it overnight.
The next day, take the caramel out of the fridge and tug off the parchment paper. Take a big knife and cut it into cubes.
If your pan is too long just to use a knife, then you can also use a pizza cutting wheel, so long as you spritz it with the non-stick when the caramel starts to stick to it.
Now it is time to wrap your caramels. Cut up sheets of parchment paper so that there is plenty of overlap, like in the picture. Then roll it up along the long edge and twist both sides to make the classic candy wrapper shape.
Once they are all wrapped, you just need to give them to someone (and by the way, you count as someone, too).
I hope you enjoy!
Soft Homemade Salted Caramels
- 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- 3/8 cup (or 3 ounces) of heavy cream
- 1/8 cup (or 2 ounces) of water
- 1/8 cup (or 2 ounces) of corn syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup sugar
- Flaky salt
- In a small saucepot, combine water (1/8 cup or 2 ounces) with the vanilla (1/4 teaspoon) and sugar (1/2 cup). Then add in corn syrup (1/8 cup or 2 ounces) and stir until combined.
- Turn on heat under the pot to medium and bring to a boil. Let boil for about 10 minutes, until mix is golden brown and the temperature on a thermometer reads at least 320 F.
- While the sugar/water mix is boiling, put the butter (3 tablespoons) and heavy cream (3/8 cup or 3 ounces) into a coffee mug and microwave to melt the butter (around 30 seconds).
- Then, line a heat-tolerant pan with parchment paper and spritz with non-stick spray.
- Once the sugar mix is ready, pour in some of the cream/butter mixture and stir to combine. Don’t add it all at once! Just a little, then stir, then a little more, until it is all combined.
- Let the caramel boil again until the temperature registers at least 240 F.
- Carefully pour the boiling caramel into the parchment paper-lined dish, knocking the sides to pop bubbles.
- Let the caramel cool for 15 minutes.
- Sprinkle the top of the caramel with the flaky salt.
- Cool the caramel in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or even overnight.
- Take caramels out and cut into cubes with a knife, then wrap each in a piece of rectangular parchment paper, twisting the ends to make the classic candy wrapper shape.