Intimidated at the the thought of making caramels? I was too. Although I’m a confident baker, anything in the “candy” category had me running the other way. Too complicated, too easy to mess up – and the terms! “Hard ball!” “Soft ball!” In short, candy-making was something best left to the professionals.
But oh do I love caramels – and not long ago I discovered that they are actually easy – I mean, really easy – to make. The secret?
A candy thermometer. While the technique for making caramels is simple, accuracy is key – specifically, the temperature. You want to take the mixture off the heat at exactly 240 degrees (the “soft ball” stage, by the way), for the caramels to set perfectly. And while there are various ways to do this, the easiest and most accurate is with a thermometer.
And that’s all there is to it! Packed in a glassine bag, these caramels would make a perfect holiday gift – especially for the salty-sweet tooth on your list!
Bourbon Sea Salt Caramels (makes 100)
adapted from Bon Appetit
2 c. sugar
1/2 c. light corn syrup
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 T. bourbon
1/2 t. kosher salt
flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
Line an 8 x 8 pan with parchment paper in both directions, with a 2″ overhang on each side. Lightly coat with non-stick cooking spray.
Place sugar, corn syrup and 1/4 c. water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring continuously until the sugar is dissolved. Once boiling, swirl pan occasionally and cook till mixture is a dark amber color (about 8-10 minutes).
Remove pan from heat and whisk in butter and milk until smooth. Return to stove and reduce heat to medium-low. Attach a candy thermometer and cook, whisking constantly, until thermometer reaches 240 degrees. Immediately remove pan from heat and whisk in bourbon and kosher salt.
Pour mixture into your baking pan. After 10 minutes, sprinkle with sea salt, and let cool completely. Using your parchment “sling” to assist, transfer the caramel to a cutting board and cut into 3/4″ pieces. I like to “score” the caramels with a greased chef’s knife and then cut the individual pieces with a pair of kitchen shears.
Wrap each piece in waxed paper, parchment paper, cellophane or plastic wrap (I use 3″ squares of waxed paper).
Keep in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.