The waiting is the hardest part, as one of our country’s greatest poets once said.
But if you are anything like me, you’ll make up for all that time lost waiting with these small-batch salted caramels once they’re ready to eat.
If you’ve tried my step-by-step method for making homemade caramel sauce, you’ve already done something even more complex making your own salted caramels for gifts and snacky treats.
Even more complex!?! How can that be?
Well, even though there’s one more ingredient on this list—upping the ante with both brown and granulated sugar—the following recipe is possibly even easier to make than caramel sauce.
With chewy salted caramels, you’re not depending on your senses of sight and smell to get the sugar in the pan to caramelize in the pan perfectly, like you do with the sauce version of caramel.
There’s no guessing or estimating involved with salted caramels. Instead, you just boil everything together, clip the thermometer onto your pan, and then . . . you wait.
You watch the digits on the thermometer rise higher and higher, incrementally by tenths, until the caramel is 240 degrees.
Then you stir in a little more cream and wait, watching as the temperature dips and then rises again.
Once the caramel hits 245 degrees, you pour it into a greased loaf pan, and then . . . you wait.
After two hours, you can finally cut the block of caramel into 32 bite-size pieces. Yep, fewer than 3 dozen! This recipe for small-batch salted caramels lives up to its name.
However many you decide to eat in a single serving is completely your call.
Personally, I can’t stop before I’ve had at least five salted caramels. But you might have more restraint than I do.
And honestly, though the whole cooking time is really only 25 minutes from start to finish, sometimes I relish that slow time waiting in the kitchen.
Since I’m frequently multitasking with my cooking assignments, I often feel like I’m in a race against the clock to get all my projects finished and shot before the end of the day.
And being forced to do nothing but watch a thermometer is my way of eking out little respite from the madness.
Hey, I guess if you’re the kind of person who likes watching paint dry, this recipe will be up your alley!
A few recipe notes:
I specify both dark brown sugar and dark corn syrup in this recipe. But if all you have in the house is light brown sugar and light corn syrup, you’ll still end up with delicious caramels.
It’s just that using the dark sugar and corn syrup will give your salted caramels a darker color, and I’m a visually picky person, so I prefer that look.
- cooking spray
- 1/2 cup heavy cream, divided in half
- 1/4 cup (50 grams; 1 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (53 grams; 1 7/8 ounces) packed dark brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1/2 cup (156 grams; 5 1/2 ounces) light or dark corn syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- Maldon salt or other flaky salt for garnish
- Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the long side of a standard (9x5-inch) loaf pan with enough overhang on both sides to lift the paper out of the pan.
- Place in the pan, pressing into the corners, and spritz with cooking spray.
- Add 1/4 cup heavy cream, granulated sugar, brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, and kosher salt to a high-sided 1- to 2-quart saucepan. The caramel will bubble up as it boils, so it's important that your saucepan has high sides and enough room to contain the liquid.
- Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves completely.
- Once the liquid is smooth, clip a candy thermometer to the pot.
- Continue to heat the caramel without stirring until the thermometer reaches 240 degrees F. This will take about 10 minutes, though timing will vary based on your particular stove burner power and the saucepan you're using.
- When the thermometer hits 240 degrees, carefully whisk in the remaining 1/4 cup heavy cream.
- Continue cooking the caramel without stirring, watching the thermometer until the temperature reaches 245 degrees F. This will take about 8 minutes longer.
- Pour the caramel into the prepared baking dish. Let rest for 5 minutes to cool slightly, then sprinkle with the Maldon salt.
- Let sit at room temperature for 2-3 hours until the caramel is firm and completely set.
- Lift the caramel from the loaf pan using the overhang of the parchment paper. You may need to gently run a knife along the short sides of the pan to detach the caramel before lifting.
- Place the block of caramel, still on the parchment paper, on a cutting board.
- With a long, sharp knife, trim any wonky edges off the block, then slice the block into 4 long strips.
- Cut the strips crosswise into 1-inch cubes. You'll get 32 total salted caramels.
- Caramels can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. They will stick to glass and ceramic, so keep your container lined with parchment paper.
- You can also individually package the caramels in mini muffin tin liners if you're gifting them.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 53Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 109mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 0g
The nutritional information above is computer-generated and only an estimate.
This post was originally published in 2012 and completely updated with new text and photos on Feb 8, 2021.