Homemade Caramels Recipe
Making Homemade Caramels, It’s Easier Than You Think
My family loves homemade caramels. They just can’t compare to the cellophane wrapped squares that you find in the grocery store. Don’t get me wrong, those store bought ones are great if you want to make caramel apples, but if you want some amazing, soft, decadent eating caramels, there’s nothing like making them in your own kitchen. When we have caramels in the house, my youngest thinks she can live on eating caramels alone she loves them that much! And even better, they really aren’t that difficult to make. The key to good caramel making is to stir constantly. Otherwise all those sticky sugars can easily burn if not continually moving it around in the pan. It really only takes about 15 minutes of actual cooking/stirring time so it’s really not that bad. Let’s start with the recipe that I like to use.
1 cup Brown Sugar (make sure it is soft with no hard chunks)
1 cup White Sugar
1 cup Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 cubes (1 cup) Butter (salted butter is fine)
1 cup White Corn Syrup
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 cup Chopped Nuts -optional (any kind of nut you want, I use pecans)
I also use a good candy thermometer for my caramels. It is not required and will show you how to test the caramels for doneness without one, but it does make caramel making easier and takes the guesswork out of it. I bought mine at Target for about $10 a few years ago when my last one gave up the ghost. This kind is great because it has a clip on the back to hold it onto your pan, the markings are easy to read and the actual thermometer doesn’t touch the bottom of the pan to give you a false reading (the bottom of the pan is hotter than the actual candy cooking).
First, if you are using nuts in your recipe, chop them up before you start cooking. That way they are ready when you need to add them and you won’t end up burning your caramel while it waits for you to chop the nuts. Don’t chop them too fine, leave some good chunks.
Now you’re ready to cook! Using a nonstick (works much better for sticky caramel as it won’t stick to the bottom of your pan and burn) pot on medium high heat, add both sticks of butter and melt. I like to melt the butter first before adding any other ingredients. Once the butter is melted, dump in both sugars, condensed milk and corn syrup to pan and stir until combined. Save out the vanilla and nuts.
Bring to a boil and continue stirring. Once boiling, add the candy thermometer to your pan. If you don’t own one, it’s ok, skip this part. Keep stirring…
When it has been boiling for a good 10 minutes, you will notice it turning a darker brown.
Start watching your thermometer and cooking to between “Soft Ball” and ”Firm Ball” or 244-246 degrees F. Mine is just about there… I’m not a fan of caramels that pull my teeth out so this is where I cook it to. If you like a firmer caramel, cook right up to “Firm Ball” or 2 degrees above, 248-250 degrees F.
*Testing Caramels WITHOUT a Candy Thermometer- If you don’t own a candy thermometer, this is how you can test to see if your caramels are ready. Get a small bowl or a short wide mouth cup that is big enough to put your hand in. fill it with cold water and set to the side of your cooking caramel. When your caramel starts turning color, pull a bit our with your stirring spoon and drip into the cold water.
Move the caramel around with your fingers for a few seconds until it’s cool and pull it out. If it holds shape and feels like the consistency you want in a caramel, it’s probably ready. If it doesn’t hold shape, keep cooking and testing until you are satisfied. It goes pretty quick, so you’ll want to “test” every couple minutes if not more. Good thing though, every time you “test” you also get to taste! It’s a bit messy, but kind of fun and yummy! Even though I use a thermometer, my kids beg to “test” the caramels this way just like when I was a kid and got to be my mom’s “tester”.
Now that your caramel is done (almost firm ball, or holds shape when cooled), take off heat and stir in vanilla and nuts.
Pour into a lightly greased 9×13 pan (I like to use glass). Let cool completely (4-6 hours). I made a double batch, one with nuts and one without. To do this, I poured half into a pan before adding the nuts, then stirred in the nuts and poured the second half into another pan.
Let cool completely, 4-6 hours then cut into bite-size pieces and wrap. I like to use waxed paper pieces, but you may also use plastic wrap.
Now you can enjoy these little pieces of paradise and suddenly become everyone’s best friend if you decide to share the little puppies! I hope you have fun making your own Homemade Caramels and let me know how they turn out. I would love to hear from you!
Love to all! ~Amy
I have been married for 22 years to my awesome hubby, Todd and we have 4 equally awesome kids who keep my young! Our favorite thing to do together is travel. I enjoy gardening and puttering around my yard. I am very active in my church and am currently serving the children, and I love volunteering at my kids’ schools doing whatever I can to help the teachers and staff.