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This Homemade Caramels recipe is so soft, chewy, and melt-in-your mouth buttery. A delicious candy that is the perfect holiday gift for Christmas neighbor plates.
Soft caramels are an addiction of mine. I buy the big tub of Chocolate Covered Sea Salt Caramels at Sam’s Club and eat one almost every day. It’s my special treat.
Of course the holidays are a great time to make homemade candy and treats like these homemade caramels, so I gave it a try. My whole family really enjoyed this recipe. So much so, that we almost didn’t want to share!
Homemade caramels, although extremely delicious, can be temperamental, just like any other candy. Here are some tips for success when making homemade caramels:
KEEP A ROLLING BOIL
To make sure the caramels don’t get grainy, crystalized, or curdled, you must keep a consistent rolling boil over medium heat and stir, stir, STIR! This is especially important as you add extra heavy cream. TIP: Warm the heavy cream up in the microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes and SLOWLY add it to the boiling mixture. Never allow that boil to let up!
CANDY THERMOMETER OR COLD WATER TEST
I used both a candy thermometer and the cold water test, but honestly, the cold water test is more accurate! The first batch that I made I heated to soft ball stage (240 degrees Fahrenheit) with two different thermometers for accuracy. The cold water test checked out at that temperature, but the caramels still ended up being quite hard once they set. This had to have been due the high altitude of my location. (Rookie mistake.)
Altitude and humidity may also effect the temperature that your homemade caramels need to be heated to for a soft texture. TIP: Start checking the caramels around 225-230 degrees Fahrenheit and use the cold water test. You’ll know you’re close to done when the mixture reduces to almost half and is starting to thicken.
To do the cold water test, spoon some of the caramel into cold water, let it sit for a few seconds. Then pull it out. If it can hold the shape of a ball, then it’s done. Keep in mind, the caramels will firm up a little bit more than the cold water test suggests, so stop when it’s slightly under where you like it.
Note from reader Susan: “At sea level water boils at 212 degrees. If you’re at a higher altitude water will boil at a lower temperature. Adjust the soft ball temperature accordingly, i.e. if water boils at 203 degrees at your altitude, soft ball stage would be 9 degrees less or 231 degrees.”
- 3/4 cup butter, cut into chunks
- 3/4 cup dark corn syrup
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 cups heavy cream, divided
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Prepare a 9x9-inch or 11x7-inch baking dish -- butter the dish generously, or line it with parchment paper and spray the paper lightly with cooking spray.
- In a 4 quart pot (no smaller) over medium heat, bring the butter, corn sryup, sugar, and 1 cup of heavy cream to a boil. Stir continuously, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon or heat resistant spatula.
- Once the caramel comes to a boil, heat the remaining cup of cream in a LARGE bowl or glass measuring cup in the microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes until hot/boiling. (Will rise as it boils, keep an eye on it so it doesn't spill over.)
- SLOWLY add the hot cream to the pot of caramel while stirring continuously. Never allow the caramel to stop boiling or it will become grainy/crystalized.
- Keep stirring the caramel until it reduces by about half and starts to thicken. (About 25 minutes.)*TEST the caramel once it reaches 225-230 degrees Fahrenheit, by spooning some of the caramel into a small bowl of very cold water. Let it sit for a few seconds. Then pull it out. If it can hold the shape of a ball, then it’s done. Keep in mind, the caramels will firm up a little bit more than the cold water test suggests, so stop when it’s slightly under where you like it.
- Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. It will bubble up so be careful. Pour the caramel mixture into the prepared dish. (If some caramel sticks to the sides, leave it. Do not scrape it out. It will be more firm and result in two different consistencies.)
- Let the caramels cool a minimum of 3 hours before cutting. Cut wax paper strips that are 5 to 6-inches long. Then cut each strip into thirds that are about 4-inches wide. Cut caramels into squares (8 rows by 8 columns for 64 pieces.) Place a caramel in the center of a wax paper strip. Roll up and twist the ends. Repeat with all caramels.