It’s that time of year again, when the kitchen swings into action to produce Christmas goodies. This year, I thought it would be fun to make something that I’ve never made before – caramels! For some reason, I thought that they would be hard to make, but actually, they were pretty easy.
Homemade caramels are so much better than store-bought. They are suprisingly easy to make. However, they do take a bit of time.
I spent a fair amount of time looking at different recipes, and was surprised at the variation in temperature from one recipe to the next. At the low end, the recommended temperature was 236° F; at the high end, it was 250° F. Most of the recipes recommended a cooked temperature of around 245° F, which is what I settled on. Another variation was the size of the pan into which the cooked caramel was poured, ranging from 12 x 15-inches to 8-inches square. Since I had no idea how much caramel the recipe would make, I opted for a 10 x 13-inch pan which I lined with parchment paper. The recipe that I settled on was from the Allrecipes.com site.
Ingredients for Caramels
I used the following ingredients: Granulate sugar, brown sugar, whipping cream, evaporated milk, corn syrup, butter and the vanilla bean.
I placed all of the ingredients into my Dutch oven, except for the vanilla bean and fitted the pan with my digital thermometer. Then, I heated the ingredients over a medium heat to melt everything.
Once everything was melted, I reduced the heat to medium low. I stirred the mixture occasionally. After almost a hour, the mixture had only reached 220° F, so I raised the heat to medium, and continued stirring it occasionally. It took almost another hour for the mixture to reach 245° F.
When it reached 245° F, I removed the mixture from the heat and added scraped seeds from the vanilla bean. Then, I stirred to combine everything and poured the caramel into the parchment lined pan.
I let the caramel cool overnight before attempting to cut it into pieces. To cut the caramels, I used a pizza cutter that had been lightly coated with butter to cut the caramel into strips. I tried using kitchen shears to then cut the caramel into pieces, and decided that the pizza cutter actually worked better.
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 cup corn syrup
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 cup evaporated milk
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1 whole vanilla bean (or 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract)
- Line a 10 x 13-inch pan with sides with parchment paper. Set aside. In a large, heavy pan, combine all ingredients except for the vanilla. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the mixture reaches 245° F, about one hour.
- Remove from heat and add the seeds scraped from the vanilla bean, or the vanilla extract. Stir to combine. Pour mixture into prepared pan and let cool completely.
- When cooled completely, lift the caramel out of pan, and cut into small pieces. Wrap caramel in parchment paper or waxed paper, and store in an air-tight container. Yield: 12-dozen pieces.
May use a pan as small as 9 x 9-inches for a thicker caramel).