Salted caramels — buttery, creamy, soft, and chewy.
Notes: Do not stir this until the cream mixture has been added in step 5 – after the mixture has reached 350 degrees. Don’t walk away from this; just when you think you have a spare minute or two before it hits temperature, it will start burning. It’s like the Murphy’s Law of caramel. Finally, this stuff gets incredibly hot – and it stays hot for a while. Be very careful. Make sure both big fingers and little fingers alike keep out of this until it has cooled completely.
5 Tablespoons butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, scraped (or 1 tsp extract)
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt for sprinkling
- Line an 8×8 baking pan with a double sling of parchment paper. Spray with cooking spray to prevent sticking. Set aside.
- Add the butter, heavy cream, vanilla bean and salt to a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently so the mixture doesn’t burn. Remove from heat and set aside for at least 15 minutes so the flavors meld.
- In a large saucepan (not a small one because this is going to foam later on!), add the corn syrup and water. Then add the sugar to the center of the pot to help prevent crystallization. Boil the mixture over medium-high heat. Do not stir! (also to prevent crystallization). Boil until the mixture turns slightly golden and reaches 300 degrees. This will take 7 – 10 minutes.
- When the sugar reaches 300 degrees, turn down the heat to medium. Do not stir! However, you can swirl the pan around from time to time until the mixture reaches 350 degrees and takes on an amber-ish color. This should take another 3 – 4 minutes.
- When the sugar reaches 350 degrees, immediately remove from heat and add the heavy cream mixture. This is where things get foamy. NOW you can stir things together. Place the mixture back on the heat, stirring frequently to prevent burning, and cook until it reaches the firm ball stage at 248 degrees.
- When the mixture reaches 248 degrees, immediately pour the mixture into the prepared pan, tapping out any air pockets. This mixture is wicked hot at this point. Although it looks and smells delicious, do not attempt to taste it. It will hurt – badly. (That’s experience talking, folks!)
- Let the mixture set for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with kosher salt (or fleur de sel, if you have it). Let cool completely. When it reaches room temperature, place the caramel into the refrigerator to chill for an hour. The extra time in the refrigerator will help the caramel retain its shape while cutting. It also helps to control sticking.
- When the caramel has chilled, use the sling to remove from pan. Use a sharp knife to cut the caramels into ¾” to 1” squares. Each square can then be wrapped in pieces of parchment, twisted at each of the two ends to close – like taffy.