recipe: salted caramels (and a lesson learned)

oh my goodness i am addicted to salted caramels (aka fleur de sel caramels. aka sea salt caramels). it’s a problem (to my waistline). when my stash runs out, i have to run to the store to buy cream to crank out some more. at the moment, this is my most favorite recipe ever, because the result is just. so. good.

cast of characters:

salted caramel ingredients

sugar, corn syrup, butter, heavy cream and sea salt (or fleur de sel)

(not pictured: water)

here’s the sea salt i used (seen in the cute round wooden box above – purchased at the chopping block):

maldon sea salt

let’s begin.

heat the cream, butter and salt until it boils. turn off heat and let it hang out until you need it.

cream butter salt

add the sugar, water and corn syrup to a three- to four-quart saucepan. you shouldn’t go much smaller than this size because it does bubble up a bit when you add in the cream. but don’t go too big either because it will take for.ever.  (trust me. dear all clad, can’t you label the size of your pans? apparently i’m a bad judge). stir until sugar is dissolved over medium heat.

stirring to dissolvedissolved sugar

when the sugar is dissolved, stop stirring. you can swirl the pan every now and then, but don’t stir. for serious. (this avoids sugar lumps)

the sugar will start to boil. this is when the caramel magic begins to happen.

sugar boil 1

the sugar will begin to get darker,

sugar boil 2

and darker,

sugar boil 3

and darker, to a nice golden caramel color.

sugar boil done

now add the warm cream mixture into the sugar, stirring to incorporate. it will bubble up. don’t be worried.

add cream

add your candy thermometer into the pan. keep stirring.

add candy thermometer

stir continuously, watching the temperature. the magic number is 248. 248 is smack dab in the middle of the “firm ball” stage (245-250*; caramel will keep it’s shape but still be soft) (don’t know why i just pointed that out).

magic number

when the temp gets to 248 degrees, turn off the heat and carefully pour the caramel into an 8×8 pan lined with parchment paper (the lesson i learned to be told further down),  lightly sprayed with non-stick spray.

once the caramel has set for about 10 minutes, sprinkle sea salt on it (if you want to dip these in chocolate, which i didn’t, you should save the sprinkling of salt until after you dip).

sprinkle salt

i like to add a pretty good amount, to make sure all the cut up pieces have some salt on them. the salty sweet combo is the best part.


let the caramel cool for a couple hours. then lift out the caramel by the parchment paper and place on a cutting board. cut into squares. mine are probably a little less than an inch.

cut caramels

cut parchment paper or wax paper into 3×3 or 4×4 squares (i prefer wax paper for this step). place a caramel in the center of a square and roll it up.

roll it up

then twist the ends.

twist it up

done! this old fashioned wrapping should keep your caramels good for a couple weeks or longer (but i wouldn’t know since they don’t last longer than that). and will keep them from getting stuck together.


salted caramels
makes approximately 40 – 60 caramels, depending on size

1 cup heavy cream (a half pint is perfect)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water

line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, then lightly spray with cooking spray. bring cream, butter and salt to a boil in a small saucepan, then remove from heat and set aside. boil sugar, corn syrup, and water in a 3- to 4-quart pot, stirring until sugar is dissolved. boil, without stirring (gently swirl pan occasionally), until mixture is a light golden caramel (will take some time, but watch carefully). stir in cream mixture (mixture will bubble up) and simmer, stirring frequently. add candy thermometer to pan. heat until caramel registers 248°F on thermometer, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. pour into prepared pan and cool for a couple hours. cut into 1-inch pieces, then wrap each piece in a 3- to 4-inch square of wax paper, twisting the ends to close.

(recipe very slightly adapted from epicurious)
a couple tips from yours truly:

-don’t be intimidated (i was). you can do this.
-keep watch at all times.  the caramel can go from barely golden to too golden pretty fast. and the temperature can go up really slowly but then reach 248* pretty fast
-if your caramel is hard to cut, try warming your knife over the flame on your stove (be careful!). you may have to clean your knife now and then (annoying).
-the recipe says to use an 8×8 pan, but i’ve also used a 9×9 pan (since it has sharp corners and my 8×8 doesn’t). both work;  if you use a 9×9 pan your caramels just won’t be as thick.
-248* is very hot. and caramel is very sticky. so for serious, be careful. no, luckily, i did not learn this lesson myself.
i did, however, learn a VIL (very important lesson) myself:

parchment paper and wax paper are not the same thing, even though they both have paper in their names. i know, i know: duh. well. some people can’t be smart every single minute of every single day, even though they try.  the last time i made these, i was fresh out of parchment paper and just couldn’t wait. so i lined my pan with wax paper (do not do this). wax paper is called wax paper because it has wax on it (duh). and wax melts (duh). so when you pour your 248 degree caramel on it, it will frickin melt (duh). and then stick to the caramel forever and ever. then you think you will have to throw this glorious batch of salted caramels away (and then go cry). because the wax paper and caramel have seriously mated for life. but then you think, this is glorious caramel. it simply cannot go in the garbage. and then you spend over an hour (maybe two) cutting off the wax from every piece of caramel. because it’s worth it.

so go make some. or go pay $15 for a box of 12. your choice.

enjoy your weekend! who are you cheering for in the superbowl? are you even watching it?


p.s. since the bears lost to the cheeseheads, i don’t even care about the superbowl. i don’t even know if i’m doing anything for it. but i will be watching for the commercials (even though they really seem sub-par lately), and to cheer for whatever team needs the points necessary for me to win the superbowl squares thingamajig at work. i could do so much with $400. it’s already spent in my mind.


19 thoughts on “recipe: salted caramels (and a lesson learned)

  1. You are hilarious! I will think of you while making these next week and get a few good laughs when lining my pan with parchment paper. Did you really try to save the caramels???

    • i cannot lie. i really did try to save the caramels. it took longer than it should have though, because while trying to save them, it was taking longer i wanted to spend, so i put the remaining caramels in a tupperware for later…and then they all melted together. so not only did some have wax paper on the bottom, there was now wax paper in the middle of caramels that i had to try to pry apart and cut. lord. not my finest moment 🙂 (some may or may not still have wax paper on them. they still taste good!) i left this part out of the post, but obviously this comment outs me.

  2. I’ll probably be half rooting for the Packers since we’ll be at a neighbors who’s a Packer fan.
    Those salted carmels are out of this world good!! I wouldn’t be able to resist them if they were within 20 feet of me.

    • hmmm…the knorrs? i was going to root for the steelers since the packers are the bears’ enemies, but, now that i have $5 on the line, i’m cheering for the teams that need to score to make me money. ha. and thanks! i know, it’s hard. i try to limit myself to 2 or 3 a day. since i also have banana bread, blackberry cobbler and cookies at home. yikes.

  3. Yum, caramel! Have you tried it with goat milk? It’s amazing! Also, I only ever use about a tablespoon of corn syrup (I thought you only needed enough to keep the sugar from recrystallising?), is that weird? Thanks for the recipe

    • i have not tried it with goats milk, i actually haven’t seen any with it; i will have to try some if i see it. re: the corn syrup, to be honest, this is the only recipe i’ve tried and since it was so good i haven’t messed with it or tried another (and no that doesn’t sound weird). i’m sure there are a lot of recipes that use different amounts of corn syrup–let me know if you try my recipe, and if you try others that have less! as i mentioned, i don’t want to mess with a good thing (unless i have a reason to, like a recommendation). thanks for stopping by!

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  6. I made these this weekend & they’re much better than store-bought caramels! I like to make my own turtles, but the quality of caramel and chocolate coating prevented them from being the best they could be. I’ll be making this recipe again and again!

    • glad you like them! oooh, turtles are my favorite ever! i haven’t attempted to make homemade ones yet, maybe i’ll have to give it a shot! though i imagine i would cook my caramel a little less, perhaps to the soft ball stage?

  7. Hi you forgot to include water in the detailed version so I just made it and realized I never used the water so I double checked and it’s only in the quick printable version.

  8. I have to say that it is bad, bad, BAD! That I found this recipe! These are so good and so easy to make. I dipped mine in dark chocolate and then sprinkled the salt on top. Not only are they beautiful but also irresistible! I used to buy these occasionally as a treat when I was out. At the chocolate shop I would pay 3.75 for 4 of these delectable squares! I am afraid that the money I am saving will have to be spent on the next size up in my favorite jeans. On the bright side, I am making these as gifts for Christmas…If they can escape my husband, my kids and myself first lol!

    • i am so so glad you love them. and i also love that you dipped yours in chocolate – i’ve been meaning to, but haven’t gotten around to it in the, oh, six batches i’ve made. sooo much cheaper to make yourself, and surprisingly easy! i’m sure people will love receiving these, if they get them 🙂 have a great christmas

  9. guess I should have read the whole thing before making it. I lined it with wax paper too. Unfortunately I ruined a batch. So I sacrificed and ate them all myself. JUst had to suck on them till the wax paper came off. then throw away the paper. These caramel are way to good to waste any. And I’ve gotten Rave reviews from everyone who eats them. I made some to take to my grandma. After she had her first piece she wanted me to hide them whenever visitors would come over. LOL she wanted to eat them all. Thanks. This will be a new tradition.

    • oh no! i feel for you. and also know what it’s like to eat wax paper in the name of delicious caramels 🙂 so happy you and your grandma loved them! i love to hear things like this.

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