Instead of store-bought candy this Christmas, Susan asked for caramels, Chocolate Billionaires, and Peanut Butter Balls. For the caramels, she suggested a recipe that purportedly took 2 hours to make with constant stirring. I have no doubt that the caramels from this recipe would be good. However, I decided to make Soft Salted-Butter Caramels.
The reason I decided against making the recipe she suggested was that I didn’t have either the time or the inclination to stand over a pot, stirring for two hours! I’ve made caramels before, but wanted to try a new recipe. Given the success that I’ve had with other recipes from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi, I settled on her Soft Salted-Butter Caramels. This is especially so given that the recipe requires minimal stirring and only takes about 25 minutes to make.
The ingredients include granulated sugar, light corn syrup, water, heavy cream, unsalted butter, fine sea salt, and vanilla extract.
Making the Soft Salted-Butter Caramels
Before I starting cooking, I lightly buttered an 8-inch square baking pan. I lined it with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides, and then lightly buttered the parchment paper. I set it aside on a wire rack, awaiting the luscious Soft Salted-Butter Caramels.
Using a 3-quart heavy saucepan, set over medium heat, I combined the sugar, corn syrup and water.
When the sugar had dissolved and the mixture began boiling, I positioned my candy thermometer in the pan so that the bulb didn’t touch the bottom of the pan.
I cooked the caramel over medium heat, without stirring, until it reached 300° F. This took about 9 minutes.
When the caramel reached 300°, I removed the pan from the heat and slowly added the cream, which I heated to boiling. Using a silicon spatula, I stirred to combine the caramel and the cream.
I added the butter and salt, then stirred until the butter melted.
I returned the pan to the stove set to medium heat. Then I continued to cook it, without stirring, until the caramel reached 253° F. This took another 11 minutes. When the caramel had reached 253° F, I removed the pan from the heat, stirred in the vanilla extract, removed the thermometer, and quickly poured the bubbling caramel into the prepared 8-inch baking pan. I took care not to scrape anything out of the pan that was stuck to the bottom. This was important because the caramel continued to cook in the pan, and what was left became quite hard.
I let the caramel cool completely at room temperature before cutting it.
The result? A little over 4 dozen incredibly delicious caramels. Yum!
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Soft Salted-Butter Caramels
- 8-inch square baking pan
- Parchment paper
- 3-qt. saucepan
- Candy thermometer
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (300 grams)
- 1/4 cup light corn syrup (60 ml)
- 2 Tbs. water
- 1 cup heavy cream (240 ml)
- 3 Tbs. unsalted butter, room temperature (1½-ounces, 43 grams)
- 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
- 1 Tbs. vanilla extract
- Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides. Butter or spray the paper and the exposed sides of the pan lightly with cooking spray and set aside on a cooling rack. (When your pour the caramel into the pan, it’s going to be extremely hot, so you’ll want to protect your counter.)
- Pour the cream into a small saucepan and bring it to a boil on the stove or in the microwave. Have the hot cream, soft butter and salt near your stove top, as well as a heat proof silicon spatula or wooden spoon.
- Add the sugar, corn syrup and water to a deep 3 to 4 quart saucepan; stir to mix. Place pan over medium heat. When the sugar dissolves and the mixture starts to boil, position the candy thermometer in the pan so that the bulb doesn’t touch the bottom of the pan. Cook the caramel without stirring until it reaches 300° F to 310° F, about 10 minutes. If the sugar starts to color, swirl the pan gently to mix.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Using a heat proof spatula and standing away from the pan, slowly add the hot cream and stir to mix. Drop in the butter and then the salt and stir to combine. Return the pan to medium heat and continue cooking, without stirring, until the caramel reaches 253° F, about 11 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Remove the thermometer and pour the bubbling caramel into the prepared pan; don’t scrape out anything that sticks to the bottom of the pan. If necessary, shimmy the pan to level the caramel; place the candy in a cool, dry place. Allow the caramel to cool to room temperature and then wait a few hours more (preferably overnight) before cutting.
- To cut the caramel, turn it out onto a parchment or waxed paper lined cutting board. Peel away the parchment paper from the bottom of the caramel. The caramel is easiest to cut with a long chef’s knife or a sturdy bench scraper. It you find that either sticks to the candy, rub the blade with a little oil. Cut the candy into 1-inch squares. Place each piece on a cellophane (or wax or parchment paper) rectangle and either wrap it as a square, or roll the candy into a little log and twist the wrapper at both ends to seal.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Let the candies sit at room temperature for several minutes before serving. Yield: About 50 caramels