Monday, December 21, 2009

Fleur de sel (or not) caramels

When I set out to make a load of homemade treats I hadn't planned on making anything too time consuming since there would be quite a bit to make. But I kept stumbling across homemade caramel recipes, EVERYWHERE. I figured it's something I have yet to make (we wont count the "help" I gave mom every now and again as a child) and they look cute wrapped up so why not.

And boy, am I glad I did. I am not a connoisseur of caramels, and usually I pass on the chance to eat them but I could NOT stop "testing" them. It seems like I was wrapping one, then eating one. Wrapping one.. eating one and so on. Which is why I sent 99% of them off to family and friends, and so far I have heard amazing things from every single person. Less talk, more caramels.. please!

I didn't put the salt on every caramel, in fact I think it was only about 20. There isn't a drastic difference, so if you don't have fleur de sel (or sea salt) or don't like your sweets a bit salty, don't worry, they are still amazing. A big plus: They hold their shape (which is perfect for gift giving) but melt in your mouth. I may never use another caramels recipe again.

Fleur de sel Caramels (adapted by notsohumblepie)
Makes 60-70 large caramels
This recipe does take time, expect about an hour in front of the stove.

2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoons salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon fleur de sel, I used unrefined sea salt (omit for plain caramels)

Line a 9 x 9 cake pan with lightly buttered parchment and set aside.

In a heavy sauce pan over medium heat combine sugar, corn syrup, salt and one cup of the heavy cream. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil. This will take some time. Don't be tempted to turn up the heat, this recipe requires patience.

Once the mixture boils add the remaining cup of cream in a slow trickle so that you do not cool your caramel mixture and it continues to boil uninterrupted.

Reduce heat to medium-low and allow to boil for 5-6 minutes without stirring.

Add butter one tablespoon at a time, stirring after each melts. Clip on your candy thermometer and allow to boil over medium-low heat until the mixture just hits 250°F (Firm Ball stage) stirring occasionally. This should take about 30-40 minutes, if your temperature is climbing too quickly you might need to reduce heat all the way to low. By the same token, if you're not hitting 250°F by 40 minutes you might want to increase the heat a bit.

Once you've hit the right temperature, quickly remove from heat. Stir in the teaspoon of vanilla and pour into your prepared pan. To prevent any crystallization, don't scrape the pan as you pour, just allow what clings to the pan to remain in it. Set your dish of molten caramel carefully on a wire rack and allow to cool to room temperature.

Using the parchment, remove the cool caramel sheet from the pan and cut into pieces using a sharp buttered knife. Lightly press each piece onto a plate sprinkled with fleur de sel and wrap in cellophane or waxed paper.

These should keep for roughly a week or two, if wrapped and in an air tight container.


  1. I am so making these next year - they will be lovely gifts, indeed!

  2. Just saw these on Tastespotting and thought they looked familiar! I'm so happy you enjoyed them.

    I make them on occasion without fleur de sel too, since they are equally fabulous without.

    (I also make my husband wrap them, because I'll eat about 20% of the batch if I do)

  3. It looks like you ended up with so many caramels for a 9x9 pan. How big did you cut each piece? It seems like if I'm going to spend all that time in front of the stove, perhaps I should just double the recipe and make 2 pans or 1 big 13x9 inch pan!!

    Your photos are wonderful. Maybe I will tackle this recipe tomorrow. I received a new candy thermometer for Christmas so this seems the perfect recipe on which to try it out!

  4. ms. humble, love your recipes, love your blog. thank you.

    i cut each piece about 2 inches long, 3/4 inch wide. it makes A LOT of caramels. i didn't do a final count but it was enough to give 5 sandwich bags full.

    definitely try it out, its worth the time.

  5. I needed to stop reading after the detox post. Caramels are so not on the menu right now but I'm dying to try my hand at these. I have three friends who gave birth in the last I could pawn these off on their nursing metabolisms.

  6. oh they looks qbsolutely delicious. x fanny

  7. Yes, that little 9x9" pan yields a deceptively large number of caramels.

    Doubling the recipe creates an overwhelming number and I only do so when I am making gifts many, many people.

    One note on doubling, it requires some adjustments to the heat and cooking times (watching your thermometer carefully), as such I recommend attempting it only after one has some practice with the standard recipe.

  8. I love your blog! So happy to discover it. Everything looks stunnings - caramels, cookies - I've to read through other posts now!

  9. I've made these twice now and both times the caramels did not set up enough. They taste delicious but I have to keep them in the fridge all the time or else they will melt! I thought maybe I didn't cook them long enough the first time, but the same thing happened the second time . . . any advice?

  10. Molly -

    That is strange! Usually the reason caramels won't set is because under cooking. Did it take the full 30-40 to reach the correct temp?
    Also, was the vanilla added after it was taken off the heat?

    I'm sorry I don't have better advice! I looked around the internet as well and the only thing i can find is under cooking.

  11. Yes, added vanilla after I took it off the heat.
    I'm going to try again. Honestly, they taste absolutely divine and are manageable if I keep them refrigerated. I'm determined to get this right!

  12. Any advice for someone who doesn't own a candy thermometer?

  13. I want have to know more and more, on your blog just interesting and useful information.

  14. I've been making caramels for Christmas for years. They do take awhile but OMG they are can't eat just one. I bought a digital thermometer a few years ago and the caramels come out just right. my recipe takes about 40-45 minutes to reach 245 degrees. It makes a huge amount about 4 lbs of caramels. I will have to try above year, i think i've eaten my share of caramels for this year.


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