An easy and favorite old-fashioned holiday candy. This simple homemade caramels recipe uses only 5 ingredients and creates chewy, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth caramels!
Homemade caramels are a truly indulgent and nostalgic treat. Today we are going to satisfy our candy cravings with caramels made from scratch.
I know making homemade candy seems intimidating. If you can stand at the stove and stir a pot, you are all set to rock this recipe!
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This is a tried and true recipe. I make these caramels at Christmas every year. I only allow myself to make them once a year as they are SO good that I can eat an entire batch all by myself.
WHAT TOOLS ARE NEEDED TO MAKE HOMEMADE CARAMELS?
You will want to use a quality heavy bottomed saucepan. Cheaper and thinner saucepans won't distribute the heat as evenly and increase the chance of you scorching or burning the candy as it cooks.
A candy thermometer is also highly recommended. The thermometer is your friend in this recipe as it tells you when the candy is ready. I have a no-frills thermometer, but wouldn't mind a digital version. Hint, hint Santa.😉
CAN I MAKE CARAMELS WITHOUT A CANDY THERMOMETER?
Yes, you can use the cold water test if you do not have a candy thermometer. Fill a small cup with cold water. After the caramel has been boiling for 15 minutes or so, drizzle a little caramel into the cold water. You should be able to form the caramel into a ball with your fingers. It should be soft and pliable and a little sticky.
STEP BY STEP PHOTOS OF MAKING HOMEMADE CARAMELS
Next melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Once the butter has melted add the brown sugar and light corn syrup and cook over medium-low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Then add the sweetened condensed milk and stir to combine.
Increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches between 238° and 240° on a candy thermometer. This takes about 20-30 minutes. I typically add the candy thermometer after the mixture has been at a low boil for 8-10 minutes.
Start watching the candy thermometer closely once it reaches 230°. It can quickly move those last few degrees!
The mixture may bubble up slightly as you add the vanilla extract. Be sure to use caution pouring the extremely hot caramels into your prepared baking pan.
Allow the caramels to cool at room temperature for 3-4 hours (or overnight) until cool and set. You do not have to cover them.
HOW TO CUT AND WRAP CARAMELS
Remove the caramels from the pan by lifting out the parchment paper. Use a sharp knife to cut the caramels into your desired size.
I like to cut ten rows and then individually cut each row into 10 or 11 pieces.
To wrap the caramels, either cut wax paper into 4x5 inch rectangles, or use candy wrappers. Place a caramel in the center of the rectangle.
Then wrap the long sides of the paper over the caramel.
Finally, twist both sides of the waxed paper to seal in the caramel.
HOW TO STORE HOMEMADE CARAMELS
Wrapped caramels will stay fresh at room temperature for 1-2 weeks. You can also store them in the refrigerator, but I would allow them to come to room temperature before serving.
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- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 2 ¼ cups dark brown sugar*, firmly packed
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Line a 9x9 inch baking pan with parchment paper and butter well. Set aside.
- In a large, heavy saucepan, melt the butter. Add the brown sugar and mix until incorporated. Stir in the corn syrup. Cook over medium-low heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is well blended, about 3 minutes.
- Stir in the sweetened condensed milk and increase the temperature to medium. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches between 238° and 240° on a candy thermometer. This takes about 20-30 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.
- Cool to room temperature, about 3-4 hours, or until completely set. There is no need to cover the caramels.
- Use the parchment paper to remove the caramels from the baking pan. Use a sharp knife to cut the caramels into your desired size. Wrap the individual caramels in waxed paper.
For optimal freshness store wrapped caramels at room temperature for 1-2 weeks or in the refrigerator for up to one month.
*You can use light brown sugar
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LorAnn Oils 100 Count Twisting Wax Paper
Taylor Precision Products Candy/Deep Fry Stainless Steel Thermometer
Calphalon 1932455 Classic Nonstick Sauce Pan with Cover, 3.5 quart, Grey
PaperChef Parchment Paper for Baking: Multipurpose Nonstick Parchment Sheets, Oven Safe, No Grease or Butter Needed, Ideal for Cooking and Roasting, Biodegradable, Kosher-Certified (205 sq ft roll)
USA Pan Bakeware Square Cake Pan, 9 inch, Nonstick & Quick Release Coating, Made in the USA from Aluminized Steel
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 59Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 7mgSodium: 10mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 0gSugar: 10gProtein: 0g
The nutrition information is an estimate and may not be entirely accurate.