Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Super-Easy Salted Caramels

Caramels are MY JAM. Since I was a little girl, I ALWAYS gravitated towards caramels. I distinctly remember spending Halloween nights, going through my pillowcase of candy, and picking out all of the chewy little Milk Maid caramels. Anytime I picked out candy, it was always SOMETHING with caramel, like Rolos or Milky Ways. If there was a Whitmans or Russell Stover chocolate assortment hanging around, you can probably guess which pieces I picked out. 

I tried making my own caramels once. The first batch, I burned the living crap out of. The second batch, I burned the living crap out of ME on. So I gave up, content to just buy funky storebought caramels. And eating homemade dulce de leche straight from the jar. 

Then, a few years ago, I was introduced to salted caramels. Delectably sweet, perfectly chewy, and topped with just a few grains of coarse salt, which I did NOT expect to work with caramel, but it did. OH AND HOW IT DID.

Recently, I stumbled across a recipe for caramels that didn't require bubbling hot sugar lava or a candy thermometer. All it required was a microwave and a spoon. I was sold. And now, I can enjoy salted caramels whenever I want! These are the perfect caramel - soft, chewy and just buttery enough - mmmm!

Super Easy Salted Caramels
adapted from Food.com

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
Coarse sea salt or kosher salt

Combine the butter, sugars, corn syrup and condensed milk in a large microwave-safe container. Microwave for 4-6 minutes on HIGH, stirring every two minutes.

After 2 minutes...

After 4 minutes...

After 6 minutes. 

Carefully remove the caramel from the microwave (it WILL be hot), stir in the vanilla, then pour the mixture into a greased 8x8" baking dish.

*I like to use a greased silicone ice cube tray as well; once cooled, you can easily push the caramels out from the bottom of the ice tray. Plus, the caramels will already be the perfect size & shape, so no cutting!*

Let cool slightly (about 5 minutes), then sprinkle lightly with salt.

Let cool at room temperature, then cut into squares. Store an air-tight container, individually wrapped in wax paper.

When I use the ice cube trays, I go ahead and stick the trays in the fridge; after about 30 minutes, the caramels will have firmed up enough to remove and wrap.


  1. Amazing! Thats great that you can make this with a microwave! Sadly I've bought the ingredients to do in a saucepan.. damn it! I don't have a candy thermometer - can't I just use a regular one! Anyway well done on these they look delicious!

    1. A regular thermometer probably won't work, since it won't go up high enough. You want to get the caramel mixture up to 234 degrees, which is known as the firm-ball stage. You can actually test the mixture WITHOUT a thermometer; simply drop a bit of the mixture into some VERY cold water. When the mixture is at firm-ball, it will form a firm-ish drop that can be flattened with pressure, but won't flatten on its own.

      Here's a great link on how to test candy without a thermometer: http://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/candy/sugar-stages.html

      Hope this helps!!

  2. Hey,Soul Caramel Sister~
    Thanks for sharing! These are making there way across Pinterest right now. I'm going to make them for a high school bake sale tomorrow. I think they will sell! That is if there are any left when I'm done. :-P

    1. Yay for Pinterest! I hope that your caramels do well at the bake sale, but I'm sure that they will. Who can turn down chewy caramels?? Thanks for reading, Donna! :)

  3. I saw this on Pinterest too! :) Interestingly, this is very similar to a recipe I use for Caramel Popcorn...the only difference is there is no milk and baking soda is added after it's removed from the microwave. I love caramels too and I really can't wait to try your recipe! Thank you!

  4. Can I use dark corn syrup?

    Thanks so much from Missouri!

    1. Sarah, I've never used dark corn syrup, so I don't know how it will work. Typically, candymaking always calls for LIGHT corn syrup.

  5. Julia, these do sound good. Cheers

    1. As always, thank you for hosting and for the invite!

  6. Found your post through Carole's Chatter. You just blew my mind with the ice cube tray caramels! What a genius idea. I just can't get over it! I also just so happened to buy some today for ice...but now I am looking at them in a whole new light!

    1. Thanks, Lindsey! I also freeze juice, coconut water, pureed fruit and even yogurt in ice cub trays - once solid, I pop the cubes out and store in a freezer bag for making smoothies! The flexible ice cube trays are also GREAT for making fudge :)

  7. Hey, I have used your recipe 3 times now... the first two worked perfectly- (and I used salted butter cause that's what I had). I decided to double the recipe the 3rd time and DUH I didn't remember to cook them longer and they didn't get firm enough to be able to cut them! haha Because the can of sweetened condensed is enough for a double batch, if anyone else is readying this...if you want to double it I think the cooking time would be more like 12-14 min. Thanks!

  8. This is going to be great for Halloween!