Caramels are a favorite candy for so many people and yet making them seems to be so intimidating. I’ll admit, the process takes a LONG time, but the end result is so worth it. If you are patient then the result will be the softest, chewiest and best tasting caramels. Your mouth will be happy.
I’ve tried my hand at making caramels a couple times and this recipe, by far, knocks all others out of the water! It takes a few simple ingredients and just patience.
The ingredients for these caramels are very simple – butter, sugar, Karo syrup, evaporated milk and vanilla extract. We made ALOT of these around the holidays and gave them as gifts to several people. Let me just say that I needed to make another batch about a week later since everyone LOVED them!
Line a 9×13 pan with wax paper. This will make the removal of the caramel so much easier.
Add two sticks of butter (1 cup), 4 cups of sugar, and 2 cups Karo syrup to a large non-stick heavy bottom saucepan over medium heat. Stir over medium heat until the mixture begins to boil – about 5-10 minutes.
GRADUALLY add one can of evaporated milk (12 ounces). Let me put emphasis on GRADUALLY! This is where the process begins and takes a good chunk of time. You will want to spend about 8-10 minutes pouring ONE can of evaporated milk in. You want to make sure that the mixture remains at a constant boil so that the temperature doesn’t drop drastically. This will greatly affect your caramels. GO SLOW!
Store the mixture CONSTANTLY, scraping the sides occasionally until it reaches 238 degrees. You can use the “firm ball” stage if you are comfortable with cooking candy. Overall, it needs to be at 238 degrees. This process will take patience and time – BUT IT PAYS OFF IN THE END.
Once it reaches 238 degrees and it a caramel color, remove from the heat and add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. It will bubble and boil when you add it – just be warned.
Carefully pour into your pan lined with parchment paper. It MUST be parchment paper.
Sprinkle with a little sea salt and then let it cool. You can stick it into the refrigerator for awhile if you want to speed up the cooling process. I just let mine sit out overnight.
Once the caramels are cool you can use a pizza cutter coated in cooking spray to cut into small segments. They are easier to handle if they are slightly cooled. Otherwise they tend to be sticky while you are cutting and wrapping.
If you refrigerated the caramel, it will seem hard. They will soften at room temperature though.
Cut parchment paper into little sections and wrap them like tootsie rolls. You can form an assembly line with the kiddos on this one! One batch of mine made roughly 170 caramels!!!!
Now they’re ready to package up and give as a gift or keep for yourself! These would be amazing paired with a Starbucks gift card for a Christmas or Valentine’s treat.
Have you ever tried to make Homemade Caramels before? I am still learning the process but the one thing I know for all candies — BE PATIENT! Making candies is not for the faint of heart. You’ve got to be ready to stand over a stove and just wait it out.