I love giving salted caramels away for Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays, for care packages or ‘just because’ gifts. Homemade candy is something most people think are lavish gifts. Homemade fudge, bon-bons, truffles, caramels, if you receive a homemade candy that looks like it belongs in the Godiva store, you know you’re impressed. But what you won’t know, is that it probably was very easy to make.
All you need to make perfect caramels is a good candy thermometer, a good eye, and your first batch. Once you those you’re pretty good to go. Because, and I’m going to be honest, dear, your first batch might turn out a little crazy. You may get a call from your best friend and end up pacing in the living room, forgetting to keep that good eye on your candy, and getting some hard-crack caramels. Or freaking out about burning and ending up with goo instead of candy.
Or getting terrified of what happens when you add butter and cream to molten-hot sugar and running away in fear. It happens!
Here are a few tips to get your desired caramels every single time:
- Do the two-step: melt the sugar past hard crack stage, then pour in your cream and butter. This way is much more reliable in getting uniform batches since you will have more control than dumping every thing in at once.
- Watch the temperature: You absolutely need a candy thermometer to make this recipe. Never fear, they are very cheap; I bought mine for $2.50. The reason why you need the thermometer is because you are waiting for your sugar and corn syrup to reach about 320 degrees F (hard crack stage) and turning color without reaching 330 degrees F, where it actually caramelizes. Then after you pour your butter and cream in, the temperature will move slowly for a while then shoot up quickly at about 245-250 degrees F, at which time you should remove from the heat to cool.
- The higher the temperature for part one (the initial sugar boil) to about 310-320 degrees the darker and firmer the caramel, with less risk of crystallization. For softer caramels, cook to about 275 degrees F at the initial sugar boiling.
Easy Soft & Chewy Caramels
Makes 60 caramel candies
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Cooling time: 4 hours
1/2 cup (1 stick!) unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup light corn syrup
3 tbsp water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
- Line a 9×5 dish with parchment paper that goes over the edges, then spray with vegetable oil lightly.
- Melt the butter into the cream and set aside
- In your 2 quart saucepan, pour in corn syrup and carefully add sugar in the middle of the corn syrup. Pour water into the middle of the sugar and gently stir to moisten the sugar completely; avoid getting the sugar onto the sides of the pan.
- Heat sugar over medium-high heat until it comes to a boil. Put the lid on the pan for a minute to melt any sugar crystals that may have gotten on the sides
- Attach the candy thermometer to your pan (do NOT stir the sugar!) and continue cooking the sugar until it reaches 320 degrees F, where it will begin to turn a light golden color, about 5-8 minutes.
- Turn heat off and gradually add the butter and cream (a bit at a time because it will bubble up violently) and stir using a whisk. The bubbling will lower after a few seconds, stop whisking once you are done pouring the cream and butter in. The temperature will lower.
- Turn heat back up to medium high and bring the temperature back up to 245-250 degrees F. The candy should have a reddish brown color. Remove from heat and quickly whisk in the vanilla extract.
- Pour into the prepared dish and cool in the fridge for at least 3 1/2-4 hours until completely cooled and firm.
- Remove the caramels by the parchment paper and place on a cutting board. Cut 5 strips lengthwise and 6-7 rows of individual candies. Wrap in individual wax paper wrappers or in a container lined with wax paper.
Enjoy your easy caramels!