Barb Alpern, a member of the King Arthur baker’s support team, said of these caramels: “My mother makes a recipe every year during the holidays. It’s great. Caramel, in the spirit of my mother’s growing up on the farm, is handmade. A gift, a special kind of tolerance and a test of ingenuity. Cooking”. You will find that this candy is all of them!
Tip from our bakers: Don’t be scared by the weight of corn syrup. The standard size bottle has 16 fluid ounces on the label; but when you actually weigh the drink on the scale, it weighs 22 ounces. The easiest way is to use a standard size bottle.Print
Barb Alpern, a member of the King Arthur baker’s support team, said of these caramels
- 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons (35g) vanilla extract
- 32 tablespoons (454g) unsalted butter, cold
- 4 cups (907g) half & half
- 2 cups (624g) light corn syrup*
- 4 cups (794g) granulated sugar
- 2 cups (425g) light brown sugar, packed
- 2 teaspoons salt
- coarse flake sea salt, for topping, optional; for salty caramels
- Butter two 8″ x 8″ or 10 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ pans. Measure the vanilla into a small container, and set it aside for later.
- Cut the butter into 1″ chunks, to help it melt faster. Combine the cut-up butter, half & half, corn syrup, sugars, and salt in a heavy-bottom, 5- to 6-quart saucepan.
- Heat the mixture over medium-low heat until everything has melted, stirring constantly. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan.
- Cook slowly, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 248°F, or until a small amount dropped in cold water forms a firm ball. As the mixture boils it will become thicker and thicker and the frothy bubbles will give way to a more blurpy bubble that resembles thick lava. This happens gradually, but you’ll notice it around 230°F and higher. This is when you really have to pay attention and watch the temperature carefully, as it tends to move more quickly from 230°F up. The whole process will take about 2 hours.
- Remove the pan from the heat, and carefully stir in the vanilla; the mixture will bubble and boil.
- Quickly pour the caramel into the prepared pans. Don’t add any residue from the pot into the pans; instead, scrape it into a separate container. Baker’s treat!
- Wait 30 minutes, then sprinkle with coarse-flake sea salt.
- Cover the candy securely, and refrigerate.
- Remove the candy from the pan by loosening its edges with a knife or offset spatula, and banging the pan on a cutting board until the slab releases from the pan. Allow the candy to warm up a bit if it’s hard, or it’ll shatter when you bang the pan.
- Cut the caramels into squares, and wrap in waxed paper. Store in the refrigerator for longest shelf life. Wrapped caramels can also be frozen.