Caramels can be finicky, too high of temperature and the caramels can be too hard, too low, it won’t set properly. I’ve spent some time making caramel topping, hard caramels, and finally…finally tackled soft caramel chews. Those delicious bites, delicately chewy, sticking to your teeth in the just the right way, bursts of salt and sweet going off in an explosion of flavor. So good, it requires an over the top description.
To be honest when I started making these I didn’t realize…just how many caramels this recipe would make. In my mind I was wrapping these beautiful bites up in parchment paper to give away, I didn’t realize that the part that would take the longest was the wrapping. So if you do make these, be aware of how many each batch makes (around 50-60 depending on the size of your bites), so either recruit help, or just enjoy the meditative process of cutting, wrapping, and obviously eating.
Key tip: Mese en place – get everything ready before you start. When making caramels, the temperature matters, so if you get it to the right temperature and then go and grab the cream or butter…well, it’ll get hotter and you’ll get brittle rather than soft caramels.
I made both sea salt and coffee caramels (and wrapped over a 120 caramels!). If you want coffee flavored add 3-4 tablespoons of instant coffee, depending on how strong you like the flavor, and top it, when it’s cooled a bit, with some instant coffee powder.
Sea Salt Soft Caramels
Lightly adapted from Cupcake Jemma’s recipe
360 grams heavy cream (around 1.5 cups)
360 grams corn syrup, light (1.2 cups)
420 grams sugar, white (2 cups)
120 grams butter, (8.5 tablespoons)
1 tsp vanilla
3-4 tsp sea salt or some other coarse salt
Optional: 3-4 tablespoon instant coffee.
Need: Candy thermometer or a laser thermometer
1. First step, get all the ingredients together. This is critical.
2. Line a 9×9 pan w/ aluminum foil, with the shiny side face down. Then spray down the entire foil with non-stick spray, this is important, or else your caramels will stick. Don’t have spray? Use butter.
3. In a sauce pan, pour in the cream, add in the salt and heat it up to juuuust below boiling. Mixing so it doesn’t burn at the bottom. If you are adding coffee flavor, add it in now.
4. In a tall pot (so your caramels don’t overflow and burn you), pour in your syrup and your sugar. Now wait near the caramels and wait for it to get to 155 degrees celsius or 311 degrees farengheit. Stir it every once in a while to ensure it mixes.
5. When it reaches appropriate temperature, turn off the heat, and slowly pour the cream in stirring at the same time. At this time the caramel will bubble up and get really steamy. It’s hot. Blow away the steam from your hands so you don’t burn yourself.
6. Return it back to the heat after the bubbling has subsided and bring it up to 127C or 260F.
7. When it reaches that temperature, add in the butter and stir again. It will bubble up.
8. When the bubbling stops, you’ll have a smooth, beautiful caramel
9. Pour it into your prepared pan, and if you see air bubble feel free to lightly bang your pan against the surface to break up the bubbles or bring them to the surface, so you can pop them.
10. Top it with more sea salt or more instant coffee
11. Allow it to cool for about an hour or until it’s cool to the touch and you can handle it, and then flip it out onto parchment paper and slowly try and pull off the aluminum foil. It might stick in some places, but that’s okay.
12. Grease a sharp butcher knife. Figure out how big you want your pieces to be, I like bite size. Cut it into strips first, and to cut, just draw the knife down a line to make the strips, so you’re not chopping down. Then cut into little squares/rectangles.
13. Wrap up in wax paper.
14. Give away, or enjoy! They store in the fridge in a plastic bag for weeks!