soft salted caramels (no corn syrup!)

Holiday season is quickly hurdling our way.  It seems like just yesterday I was sitting by the poolside eating frozen watermelon cubes and trying not to bake in the sun.  However, today, I am knee-deep in homework with a dire craving for baked goods (particularly Christmas cookies and anything caramel-y).  Instead of starting my history paper, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to start building my holiday inventory #procrastibaking.  From November to January, the area surrounding my house permanently smells like butter and sugar, chocolate chips are shipped by the pound to my doorstep, and my Kitchen Aid’s busy whipping up egg whites like it’s nobody’s business.  I must have plenty of cookies, toffees and other goodies stashed away at all times. It makes me feel secure.  What would happen if I was caught off guard without a cookie in store?  I don’t know, but I don’t want to find out.  Just like squirrels start hoarding nuts around this time or year, I start hoarding candies.  It’s my natural hibernation instinct, and I don’t want to mess with nature…

Things are all fine and dandy until I make things like these soft, salted caramels… I can’t simply “stash these away.”  They are incredibly addictive.  Everyone who has received these as a holiday gift can’t stop eating them.  Problem is that since I’m human, I love these too, and if I keep stuffing them in my mouth at this rate I won’t have  any leftover to give as gifts.  I’ve tried everything to stop nibbling into my stash, but my efforts are futile.  I even tried freezing them… did you know salted caramel is delicious frozen? Yeah. It tastes like the dreamiest caramel ice cream ever.  These bring out the animal in me.

But you won’t do that right? πŸ˜‰

Do yourself a favor and make these this weekend.  Trust me, they are surprisingly easy and I felt like an absolute magician when I sliced into real-live caramel that I made myself from cream, sugar, and butter.  Plus, they have none of that icky corn syrup mumbo-jumbo, so you can feel a little bit better about eating all a few of these.  Share the love and give them away to friends, family, neighbors, the mailman, and the security guard on L1 who always remembers your name… or you could eat them all yourself.  Either way, you’ll thank me for the recipe.

What kinds of gifts are you planning to make this holiday season?

With love,
Erica

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tb vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy or whipping cream
  • 4oz salted butter, room temperature
  • coarse sea salt (I used La Baleine Coarse Sea Salt)
  • special equipment: candy thermometer 

Combine sugar, honey, and vanilla extract in a large non-reactive
pot. Turn on the heat and let the sugar and honey melt and cook until
caramelized (it will slowly become a deep, dark brown color.)
While the sugar is cooking, bring the cream to a simmer.
When the sugar reaches the color you like, whisk in the butter in
small knobs, until well mixed, then add the warmed cream, whisk until
smooth.
We let this mixture cook until the temperature reached 233F. 
Pour the hot caramel onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Let
cool about ten minutes, and then sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Continue
to let it come to room temperature, and then cut into small squares,
roll, and wrap in packets of parchment or waxed paper.

112 thoughts on “soft salted caramels (no corn syrup!)”

  1. These look delicious! I have made salted caramels before but they came out way too chewy- what color should the sugar be before stirring in the butter and cream?

    1. But what was the temperature? What's the point of calling it 'bubbly, thick and brown' if you refer to a definite point of degrees later?

    2. I just made these today-was looking for a caramel recipe without corn syrup-THANK YOU! First batch was great and I followed to a T except I let it all boil together till 250 degrees which on my thermometer is the hard ball stage. Next batch I was out of honey so I made a simple syrup with brown sugar for the honey portion and I also doubled the recipe-I have 6 dozen treats to make for a neighborhood party-so far this worked out great-again I let it go to 248 degrees-hard ball and success…it is soft but still holds shape-I am planning to wrap in wax paper. So easy and I am thrilled to check off my list without the syrup.

    1. Thank you so much Averie, I have been a fan of your blog for quite a while now! It is tedious to wrap them all, but I find it strangely relaxing and therapeutic, especially when I have some Jack Johnson playing in the background!

  2. Loveee this. I especially love the way you packaged them with the parchment paper! You just twist them at the ends? And do these look like little spirals? That is awesome.

    1. I just made caramel apples with this…I poured about half the batch into a warmed, small, bowl, let the caramel cool a bit before dipping apples (reheating in the microwave whenever it got too thick to coat). I covered 5 tennis ball sized apples, though some went back in for a 2nd coat of gooey LOVE.

  3. Hi, thanks for the recipe…I made this today with my daughter but unfortunately, the caramel never hardened πŸ™
    How can we avoid this tomorrow?!

    So close and so excited!

  4. Aleluya!! I was looking for a recipe without syrup and I finally found it! thank you, thank you! Here in Argentina don't sell syrup πŸ™ that's why…
    I will try it as soon as possible πŸ˜€

    1. I'm so glad my recipe works for you! Plus, honey adds such nice, warm notes to these caramels. There are also so many things going around in the news about how bad corn syrup is for you… tell me how yours come out!

  5. Can you tell me about how many this recipe makes? I am making them to go into the jar candle holders I am making for my kid's teacher gift this year. I wanna know how many batches I need to plan to make. Thanks for any help!

  6. I see in the comments that you recommend letting the sugar/honey mixture reach 320 before adding the butter and cream. But then it says to cook that until it reaches 250 degrees. Do the butter and cream drop the temperature that much or was that a typo? I have NEVER made candy before so I'm kind of following the directions to a T in hopes that I don't screw this up! πŸ™‚

    1. Yes! If you refrigerate them they will last between one and two weeks. The longer they sit, the more grainy they start to become, so I would not leave them out for more than that.

  7. Hi Erica,

    I'm Beth from NoshOnIt, and I love these caramels! I've made them a couple of times and they come together so smoothly and quickly! I sent you an email the other day that I wanted to make sure you've received. Please reach out when you have a chance.

    Beth

  8. I'm baffled by the temperatures given in the recipe. I'm at sea level. I've got two calibrated candy thermometers. If I allow my candy mixture to reach 250 or even 240, the candy is so hard it cannot even be cut. It can, however, be shattered by hitting it hard on the counter. It's more like a very hard sucker than a soft tootsie roll. Even at 235 the candy, while chewy, is difficult to cut. Through trial and error, I settled on 232-233 being the optimum temp at sea level with a calibrated candy thermometer. I suspect the differences between this recipe and my experience are due to elevation. I'd be very curious to know at what elevation the temperatures in this recipe were used successfully. And Erica, I'm eternally grateful to you for this recipe without corn syrup.

  9. drool………
    must make…….
    *faints*
    im totally making this, but my mom is going to tell me i eat too much sweets
    2much of a good thing?
    NOT POSSIBLE

  10. Firstly, thank you so much for this recipe without corn syrup! That stuff is so insidious, it's in everything and we don't realise. Secondly, do you think golden syrup (like honey from sugar) would work instead of honey? And thirdly (lastly, too) could you make this without the sea salt for normal caramels?

    1. Hi, I made them with golden syrup (I ran out of honey after my first delicious attempt) and they worked really well! Making a pecan batch tomorrow as a birthday gift. Not sure how many will make it into the gift box πŸ˜‰ Really great recipe for those of us who live in countries where corn syrup is not readily available (which is probably a good thing). Thanks so much!

  11. This is the first time I've made caramels and they've actually worked (and I've tried plenty of times). Thank you so much! They're delicious!

  12. First time I have ever tried to make caramels and these turned out fabulous. Creamy, buttery, melt in your mouth delicious. I did try freezing them to keep them out of my sight but they are delicious frozen. I will never purchase caramels again.

    1. Hmmm, I would definitely do all of the hot stove stuff yourself (depending on how old your kids are). After they have cooled, I would let your kids cut them and wrap them up. However, I don't think this is the most kid friendly candy to make considering all of the high heat. I think that chocolate truffles might be a better option if your kids are really small (they could mix up the chocolate and roll it into balls). Just my thoughts — happy baking!

    1. do you have another solution without candy thermometers? im only ten years old so i dont really buy any extra equipment.and also, does this make a big mess and scorch ur pans? my mom would get mad

    2. Hey! Great to see a young baker out there! If you soak the pot in hot water right after you use it, the caramel should melt right off (I feel for you — my mommy has gotten mad when I've experimented with candy making before!). I think a candy thermometer would be useful — although you could always just eyeball it and see when it's boiling (you may not get the desired consistency though)

  13. Fabulous recipe! This was my first time making caramel or candy of any sort. I live in rural Brazil, so I couldn't find a thermometer, but I figured I would try to make it anyway. I stirred and stirred for about 45 minutes, and kept spooning little bits out, letting them cool, and then checking the consistency. All of the sudden the color and texture changed, and I knew it was time to remove it from the stove. I poured it into my cast iron pan (no wax paper here) and cooled in the refrigerator to avoid the ants. It turned out wonderfully! Wow, thanks for the recipe.

  14. Tried your recipe last night and took it off the stove right after it reached 233 on my candy thermometer. I'm thinking this morning that I may have needed to let it get a little hotter, as the resulting caramel is much closer to a thick sauce right out of the fridge than caramel candies. Still, it tastes delicious and I think I will just be using it to add to my coffee for the next few days.
    I'm going to try again tomorrow night and go for a slightly higher temperature, something closer to 244.
    Thank you for this great corn syrup free recipe!

    1. Ok! I am glad that you liked the recipe and that you were able to use the thick caramel sauce for something! (I guess it's hard to be dissatisfied with a thick caramel sauce!). Let me know how it works with a higher temperature!

    2. Now I can't stop making batches. I find myself giving away handfuls to friends and co-workers just so I don't eat them all.
      Seems to be that for my elevation, 146 is about the perfect temp. I've tried 144 and they were nice but a little soft and I kept having to put them in the fridge or they'd melt and stick together. And then at 148 they are a little hard to chew for my taste but not bad.
      I checked and a quick internet search tells me that my house is at an elevation of 403 ft.
      I have made so many batches that I have started to play around with the flavoring and mixed half almond in on one batch and some tequila in on another that I did with Agave.
      My waistline is furious, but every taste bud I have praises you:)

    3. I am so glad that you liked them! πŸ™‚ I'm sure your friends and co-workers are happy πŸ˜‰ Ohh and the addition of tequila and agave sounds delicious! How creative!

  15. Awesome recipe! My first try at making caramels and it was a slam dunk! I quartered the recipe and substituted half and half for heavy cream. Then I cut them into rectangles using kitchen scissors, covered them in melted dark chocolate, and sprinkled the top with pink himalayan sea salt. Off to package them pretty and to a food swap I go! Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Just so you know…I tried it out; it did start to burn at a lower temp. And you have to keep it refrigerated–it gets runny and the squares meld back together at room temp. Great caramel filling though; I rolled them into balls and covered them with chocolate πŸ™‚ What's not to love about that?!

  16. These are delicious! But mine aren't setting, they're very sticky–is that how they're supposed to be or would I put them in the refrigerator/freezer for a little?

    1. Let's see, they could not be setting for two reasons… either you haven't given them enough time to set, or you did not heat them to the right temperature (the cooking temperature varies with the humidity and altitude of your region). If it's a little too gooey, it makes a great caramel sauce!

  17. But I had a problem. The caramel won't harden. I think I didn't cook the sugar enough so I cooked it more, and it is cooling right now. The good thing is, is that the caramel tasted GREAT! Thanks for the recipe, because I couldn't find any corn syrup anywhere.

  18. I'm on the canadian prairies and 233f turned out to be a very soft caramel, even after I put them in the freezer. I'm making these for a friend and they need to go in the mail, so I put the whole slab (I was able to fold it easily out of the freezer and it melted at room temp) back in the pot and re-boiled it. I tried 249f this time and I think it will be better.
    Thank you for a corn syrup free recipe. πŸ™‚

  19. Would this work if I don't use the honey? And maybe add more sugar or creme???
    I don't like honey nor corn syrup πŸ™

  20. so I measured out all of the ingredients perfectly, the temperatures were fine, only thing that went wrong was my pot was almost too small and I almost boiled over when I added the cream, but other than that everything else came out perfect the only thing I don't understand is the amount..mine barely wanted to stretch 3/4 of the way across a 9 by 13 and it was paper thin. So I had to pour it into an 8 by 8 . Just curious if maybe since I sprayed my pan instead of parchment..if that would have such adverse effects? But none the less they delicious! Cooling now but I just had to lick the soon. And I love that they resemble bit o honey candy, my favorite candy ever! Thank you for the great recipe

  21. This recipe looks fab! I'm going to try them this weekend. I've seen a lot of posts about the temperatures, could you please clarify? I'm a bit if a novice so need stupid proof instructions:) Also, I wanted to put them straight into sweet moulds. If I spray the moulds with release spray, would this work? Thanks!

  22. This recipe looks fab! I'm going to try them this weekend. I've seen a lot of posts about the temperatures, could you please clarify? I'm a bit if a novice so need stupid proof instructions:) Also, I wanted to put them straight into sweet moulds. If I spray the moulds with release spray, would this work? Thanks!

  23. the caramels look so good! but how much is 4oz of butter in cups? and how do u meausre 1.5 cups of sugar? sorry just a little confused, but i'm sure too make them soon!!!:)

  24. hi! I made these caramels twice and they were delicious!! the only problem was they wouldn't stay solid at room temperature!! more like a thick sauce than candies. I thought maybe I screwed up the butter. how much is 4 ounces quantitatively? I used a stick of butter but maybe that was too much… or not enough :/

  25. hello! tried these for first time today! they seem to still taste quite like honey(i do like the taste of honey, however my mum doesnt) should i try brown sugar perhaps? instead of caster that i have used in this batch?

  26. Tried these tonight and definitely looks like a tasty recipe but letting the sugar mixture get anywhere near 300 F before adding the butter and cream burnt the socks off my caramels. Will probably go with my gut next time and keep it at 244 F.Β 

  27. CARAMEL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! yum

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