Making rich, delicious homemade caramels is easier than you think. With just five ingredients, a little patience, and an optional candy thermometer, you can create perfectly chewy caramels from scratch. Check our our helpful tips and follow our simple recipe (scroll down!) for foolproof results.
Step 1: Prep the Pan
Caramel can be tricky to remove from a pan if you don’t prepare it correctly. Line a glass or ceramic pan with parchment paper and then butter the parchment liberally. Allow the parchment paper to hang over the sides of the pan–it will make the cooled block of caramel easier to remove when it’s time to cut the candy into pieces. You can also use aluminum foil (as indicated in our recipe); just butter well and allow extra foil to hang over the sides of the pan.
Step 2: Melt the Sugar
Caramel is named for the rich hue sugar takes on when it’s allowed to boil at a high temperature. It’s important to watch the mixture closely–sugar can burn easily if you’re not careful. Place the sugar in a thick-bottomed pan along with the corn syrup, cream and butter and stir until it dissolves. Then, adjust the heat to medium and allow the sugar to come to a boil, stirring gently and frequently. Brush down the sides of the pan with a damp pastry or basting brush. This will prevent the melted sugar from crystallizing and making your caramels grainy.
Step 3: Check the Caramel
If you have a candy thermometer, clip it to the sides of the pan as the mixture boils. When the melted sugar mixture reaches 245°-248°, remove it from the heat. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, don’t worry! You can also check the caramel using a bowl of ice water. Drop a small amount of the mixture into the ice water. If you’re able to form the mixture into a firm ball that still can be squeezed or flattened (“firm ball” stage), it’s ready to go. Immediately remove the mixture from the heat.
Step 4: Pour and Set
Pour the mixture immediately into the prepared pan. Resist the urge to scrape the bottom of the pan clean–sometimes the sugar at the bottom of the pan can become dark and brittle, potentially ruining the batch! Once the caramel is in the prepared pan, allow it to cool for at least two hours or preferably overnight.
Step 5: Cut and Wrap
After the caramels have set, use a sharp, buttered knife to cut it into squares. For gift giving, wrap each square into a piece of parchment paper, twisting the ends in opposite directions.
For the complete caramels recipe, scroll down!