From a culinary standpoint, Christmas means two things: cookies, and CANDY. While a lot of us think “fudge” when we think Christmas candy, for us today, it means caramels! (Anybody else grow up with a grandmother whose pockets always seemed full of them?) Our love affair with the flavor began back in fall, and we love that we can continue loving it into the winter with these homemade candies— and so can you! Don’t be intimidated. Just watch us make them, then read on for the full step-by-step instructions.
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Salted Caramel Chews
Makes approximately 30 to 40 caramels in 1 – 8-inch-by-8-inch pan
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours 5 minutes
- 1 cup heavy cream, warm
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1–½ cups granulated sugar
- ¼ cup honey, corn syrup, or golden cane syrup
- ⅓ cup water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Large flaky sea salt (optional)
- Line an 8-inch-square baking dish with parchment paper, making sure to cover both the bottom and the sides. Spray the parchment and the sides of the pan with non-stick spray.
- In a small bowl, combine the warm heavy cream and melted butter, and set aside.
- In a large sauce pot, combine the sugar, honey (or other syrup of your choice), and water. Bring the sugar mixture to a boil over over medium-high heat without stirring. Cover with a lid and cook for 1 minute. (This step will create steam in the pot and help dissolve any sugar that may have stuck to sides of the pan.) Remove the lid and continue to cook the sugar syrup for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the sugar syrup reaches 320 degrees Fahrenheit (160 degrees Celsius), also known as the “hard crack stage.” At 320 degrees Fahrenheit (160 degrees Celsius), the sugar syrup will darken slightly and smell of caramel.
- Lower the heat to medium-low and slowly and carefully add the cream mixture. Using a heat-proof spatula or whisk, stir to combine.
- Increase the heat to medium and cook the caramel until it reaches a nice caramel color, or until an instant-read thermometer reads 245-to-250 degrees Fahrenheit (118-to-121 degrees Celsius). Remove the caramel from the heat and whisk in the vanilla extract and salt.
- Immediately pour the caramel into the prepared baking dish. Do not scrape the bottom of the pan. Tap the bottom of the caramel pan on the counter a few times to help remove any air bubbles.
- Allow the caramel to set for at least two hours or, ideally, overnight. Once the caramel has cooled to room temperature, you can cover the pan to keep anything from landing on your fresh caramel.
- Once set, remove the caramel from baking pan by lifting by the parchment paper flaps. Remove the parchment paper lining. Using a very sharp knife, cut the caramels into ¾-inch-wide by 1 ½-inch-long pieces. If the caramel sticks to your knife, spray your knife with non-stick cooking spray.
- Sprinkle large flaky sea salt on the cut caramels, if using.
- If desired, wrap each caramels in a 3.5-inch-by-5-inch piece of wax paper and twist the ends closed. Caramels will keep, covered, at room temperature for about two weeks.
- A LARGE sauce pot is necessary in step 3 because the sugar syrup will bubble up and nearly triple in volume when you add the cream mixture. Don’t skimp on size!
- When adding the cream mixture in step 4, BE CAREFUL, as the sugar syrup will bubble up violently and nearly triple in size.
- Why is it so important NOT to scrape the bottom of the pan in step 6? Because sometimes burned sugar is stuck on the bottom, and you do not want this in your caramel.
See? You absolutely can make these delightful little candies at home, and we promise, they’ll be the best caramels you’ve ever had. Be sure to come back and let us know if you give them a try, and tell us how they turn out for you!
Recipe adapted from Inspired Taste