Think Salted Butter Caramels are tricky to make at home? This recipe will walk through the key steps to get this homemade gift done quickly and successfully.
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Every year in December, I make a variety of tiny treats I package and give to loved ones and teachers. I love tiny desserts because small portions mean you can sample more! Plus, they’re great to split up into edible gifts.
I’ve been making these Salted Butter Caramels for years, my friends and family request them by now. Making salted butter caramels can seem like an intimidating task, but if you have the right equipment—specifically, a candy thermometer and a heat-resistant spatula—and you’re willing to be glued to the stove for about 20 minutes while the caramel boils, you’re in for an amazing treat.
Helpful Tips for Making Salted Butter Caramels
Get a candy thermometer, but not an expensive candy thermometer: I’ve gone through many candy thermometers over the years, and you should know that nifty digital thermometers usually don’t hold up to the task of candy making, even when they are sold as such. I loved the idea of a clear display that allows you to see exactly which stage you’re at, but after busting two (expensive) digital thermometers, I’d advise you to pass. I’ve also gone through a glass candy thermometer (it shattered on the ceramic floor—that time was my fault), but I didn’t like it much because I found it hard to read since the steam often covered the display. So, what kind of candy thermometer should you get? A good old stainless steel, analog model. They’re sturdy, reliable, and inexpensive. I bought my Polder thermometer years ago, and I haven’t looked back!
Gooey or crunchy? You decide. One cool thing about these salted butter caramels is that you can make them softer or harder depending on whether you prefer a gooey caramel that sticks to your teeth or one that slowly melts in your mouth. The difference between the two? Only 20 degrees! Soft caramel is ready around 245°F (118°C—firm ball stage), whereas hard caramel (that you can still cut with a knife) sets at around 265°F (130°C—hard ball stage).
Prep ahead: Gather and measure out all the ingredients you need BEFORE you get started. The caramel-making process requires your full attention, so you don’t want to be distracted by measuring out ingredients while caramel is boiling on the stove.
Be focused: Make sure you can stay by the stove for 20 uninterrupted minutes—you should never leave bubbling caramel unattended.
Look, don’t touch: Avoid stirring as the caramel cooks—this will keep your candy free of sugar crystals.
Protect yourself: Wear an oven mitt while stirring the cream into the cooked sugar. This will protect you from the hot steam and potential caramel spatter that will occur at this stage.
Use the highest-quality ingredients you can find and afford. The quality of butter, vanilla, and flaky salt you use makes a huge difference in the flavor of the caramels you’ll get.
Finally, relax! You’ll probably be nervous the first time you make these salted butter caramels, but once you’re done, you’ll realize how easy they are to make. And then you’ll find yourself making batch after batch!
In a small saucepan, combine the cream, vanilla, and sea salt. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat and cover to keep warm while you prepare the caramel.
In a large, stainless steel saucepan, whisk together the syrup and sugar and place over medium-high heat. Whisk until the sugar is fully melted. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan, making sure the tip of the thermometer is immersed into the caramel mixture. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until the temperature reaches 310°F (155°C). Avoiding stirring the caramel while it boils to avoid creating crystals, instead, very gently swirl the pan once or twice to even out the cooking of the caramel.
Remove the caramel from the heat. Slowly whisk the cream into the caramel. Be careful as the mixture will release hot steam and bubble up significantly. Make sure the candy thermometer still dips into the caramel; return to medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook until the temperature reaches 245 to 250°F (118 to 121°C) for a soft, chewy caramel, or 255 to 260°F (124 to 127°C) for a hard caramel.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter a few cubes at a time, incorporating fully before adding more. Once the butter is fully incorporated, pour the caramel into the prepared pan. Let cool for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with additional fleur de sel and let the caramel cool completely.
Remove the caramel from the pan by pulling on the parchment paper. Use a very sharp knife to cut into neat squares (lightly greasing or warming up the blade will help make this easier). Serve, or refrigerate the caramels in an airtight container for up to 1 week. (Make sure to separate layers with parchment or wax paper to avoid the caramels sticking to each other.) You can also wrap the caramels individually into squares of wax paper or in clear candy wrappers and package them in small bags or boxes to give them as gifts.
Did you make this?
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