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I have only made caramels on the stovetop once, and while they tasted good, they were sticky and difficult to wrap and eat. A long while ago, I saw a video on Facebook for microwave caramels and I was floored. I didn't think you could just make them in the microwave. I tried it out and they were great, but then I looked around to see what other people have done and made a few changes to the recipe I originally found to make the perfect easy microwave caramel recipe.

You can also take these a step further and coat them in chocolate! Check out my Easy Chocolate Covered Caramels to see how I did it.

Note: This Instructable is for caramel candies. If you are interested in making microwave caramel sauce, you can find a recipe for that here by jessyratfink.

Step 1: Supplies

It is crazy how easy these are to make and you don't need very many ingredients which is fantastic.

I meant to count how many caramels this makes, but I forgot before they were consumed. Though, the main photo for this Instructable shows every single caramel I got out of this batch (the bowl hasn't been padded to look fuller). But, at the same time, the amount you get will depend on how big or small you make your caramels.

MICROWAVE: The microwave I used to make my caramels is 1100 watts. So, if your microwave is different you'll have to change the time accordingly (it should take more time if your wattage is lower or less time if your wattage is higher). You can also try doing the same amount of time, but just change your microwaves Power.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup (or 4 tbsp) Butter + extra for baking dish*
  • 1c cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Light Corn Syrup
  • 1/2 cup Sweetened Condensed Milk**
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla (can be optional, but I recommend it)

Supplies:

  • 8" by 8" baking dish - having a cover is nice (but not necessary) for storing your caramel while it hardens up
  • Microwave-safe bowl that is fairly big, the mixture is going to really bubble up in the microwave and you don't want it to spill over. Safer to go bigger than smaller.
  • Wooden spoon - or something to stir your caramel
  • Measuring utensils
  • Utensils for getting the caramel out of the pan*

Optional Supplies (for wrapping candies):

  • Wax paper
  • Decorative wax paper - if you trust the decorative wax paper, you can just use that, I didn't trust mine to touch the food (it said on the package only one side should touch food and I couldn't figure out which side that was), so I used wax paper on the candy and then wrapped those in the decorative paper
  • Sharp knife
  • Scissors
  • Gloves - this are nice because you'll be handling the caramels a lot; I got mine from Daiso, but you can use anything that is food safe

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Notes:

*The first time I made this, I used a canola oil cooking spray (why this? it's just what I found in my cupboard) on the pan and the caramel slid right out when it was done, but it left some oil on the caramel, which was fine because it had not taste, but not great since it made it very slick. The next two times I made this I coated the pan in butter and this didn't really do anything; it was very hard to pry out of the pan. So, in summation, use what you want to coat the pan, but be prepared to pry it out (it may not look nice, but that shouldn't really matter as you are going to cut them up at the least and then probably wrap them as well). I used a combination of a butter knife, fork, and a skinny spatula/flipper as you'll see in a later step.

**As you will notice, 1/2 cup of sweetened condensed milk only uses up less than half of a 14oz can which is kind of annoying. As it turns out, you can actually get 1 1/4c from one of these cans. So, if you aren't sure what to do with the rest, be sure to check out my Easy Chocolate Covered Caramels which is where I used the remainder of my can. No waste!

Step 2: Make Caramel

Okay, at some point before your caramel is done, prepare your baking dish by coating it some how. I used butter, as you can see, but it doesn't really work. Canola oil cooking spray worked, so you could try some type of non-stick spray instead. Another good alternative to try is to use wax paper as suggested in the comments.

When you are ready, you can start by mixing your butter, sweetened condensed milk, and corn syrup. I figured, since it is going in the microwave anyway, I started by melting the butter in my container and then mixed it once it was melted. Then, get your brown sugar all mixed in.

  • Stick your mixture in the microwave for about 2 minutes.
  • Take it out and stir; it should look like photo 5 above.
  • Stick it back in the microwave for 2 minutes.
  • Take it back out and stir.
  • Stick it back in for 2 minutes. This will be the last time and the time it will most likely spill over if the container isn't big enough, so I suggest keeping an eye on it.

Once it has melted for a total of 6 minutes*, it should be good to go. Stir it up and when it stops bubbling like crazy, mix in your vanilla.

Pour it in your pan and let it harden. I usually end up covering it and either putting it aside for a while, or you can stick it in the fridge if you are impatient or want to store it for longer.

*If you want to be sure your caramel is done, you can carefully scoop out a small amount and drop it in a cup of water. If you can fish it out and roll it into a ball (not a solid ball, but a soft one) it is good to go. I've made this three times now and each time it has always been enough time.

Step 3: Cut It

Once it is hardened, you can cut it up. Before removing it from the container, make sure you can still cut it. Test it with the knife and as long as you can cut through it, you are good to go. If it is really hard (the first time I made this, I let it harden in my very cold house and it was too hard to cut), throw it in the microwave for 10 seconds or so, but I don't recommend going over 20 seconds. You don't want it too melted, just softer.

Pry that chunk of caramel out of the pan to the best of your abilities. In the second picture, you can see the utensils I used and how it looked once I got it out. Again, a non-stick spray may work better than actual butter.

You can work where you want, but I liked working on a cutting board with a piece of wax paper on it. Made it safer to cut and the wax paper prevented it from sticking.

Cut off strips of your caramel in the width you want. Then cut those strips into smaller pieces. These are going to be individual servings, so you can make them as big or small as you want (I would say mine were about 1 inch by slightly smaller than 1/2 inch).

I cut stripes as I wrappWred them so I would have space, but you can start by just cutting the whole thing up if you want.

Step 4: Wrap Caramel Candies

Time to wrap them! You can do this how you want, but I went with what I always saw at bake sales when I was younger.

Cut off a strip of paper that is longer and wider than your candy. Once you find a size that works (and assuming you cut all the candies the same size), I recommend cutting up a bunch of little pieces partially so you know they are the right size, and partially because it is easier to work if you can just keep wrapping rather than stop to cut off more pieces.

In the pictures above, I show how I wrapped mine. It is pretty simple. Stick it in the middle of the piece of paper and wrap it around the caramel kind of like a hot dog. You want the ends to meet to protect the candy. Then, just twist the ends once or twice (be careful when you twist as you can tear the wax paper). If you want to make it easy for people to unwrap them, make sure you twist them the same direction and the same amount of times on each end.

If you have too much paper after you wrap it, just trim the ends a bit with your scissors.

Double Wrap

If you want to double wrap (just because or so that the candy doesn't touch decorative wax paper), first cut out a small piece of normal wax paper. You want it to be enough to cover the candy and that is it (you can probably use less than me). Wrap it around the candy like you did before, but instead of twisting, tuck down whatever paper you have sticking out on both ends. As you do this, you can see that less is better so they don't get too bulky.

Now, just wrap your decorative wax paper around it like you did with the normal was paper before.

Do this over and over and over again. It gets tedious, but that bowl of candy will look cute when you are done!

- The last image, from here, shows how you can double wrap with just a small piece of wax paper on the inside with the candy.

Step 5: Give Them Out to Your Friends!

Share them with your friends or even contribute them to a bake sale. I would see them when I was younger all the time and always wanted them (now I can make them myself).

I don't know how you should store them, but I actually just left mine out in the bowl shown in the images and haven't had any trouble. You can store them in the fridge if you want or even in an air-tight container if you are concerned.

The only ingredients that you would need to worry about are butter and sweetened condensed milk, but you should have at least a week before you can start to worry (I've had mine wrapped sitting in the bowl for over a week now and am not worried still).

<p>I don't know why but I was expecting these to be soft and chewy. Mine were so hard I couldn't even cut them. After re-reading the 'ible, I realized I waited too long to cut them into pieces. I know that I can soften it a bit by sticking it back in the microwave, but I am really not a fan of hard candies, so I passed the caramel on to a friend that said they taste amazing.</p><p>I made mine in a round pyrex dish (too lazy to look for the square dish), I greased it with butter and had no issues with the caramel releasing from the pan. Came up rather easily in fact. I did however place a piece of caramel on some wax paper and apparently it was still too hot because I couldn't get it off once it cooled.</p><p>Nice Instructable, thanks for sharing!</p>
<p>I'm sorry to hear yours didn't come out the consistency you wanted. It should be soft and chewy. I know they were much harder when they sat in a cool house here so I'm not sure if that was the issue, or if they maybe cooked too long. I've had mine sit in the fridge overnight and taken the out the next day (microwaved them just a bit) and had no trouble cutting them. I'm not sure why yours would get so hard.</p><p>Sorry I can't be more helpful for figuring out how to make the softer the next time. </p>
<p>Yeah if you cook it too long it will be come a brittle of sorts. I did that also - my fault! I should have known better as I make hard candy ...but it was still delicious! I will be making it again soon for my son!</p>
<p>As long as it's deliciuos, that's what's important :D</p>
<p>Ooops - I meant if it gets to too high of a temperature (through cooking too long) it will become a brittle. :)</p>
<p>Oh so they are supposed to be soft and chewy. Maybe I will try again then. I did 2 minutes cycles each time as the Instructable stated, so not sure where I went wrong. They didn't go to waste though. When I gave them to my friend, she took a meet tenderizer and whacked the slab of caramel and they broke into bite sized chunks. She says it taste like Wherther's Originals hard candy.. </p><p>Maybe I will adjust the settings on the microwave next time. I have a rather powerful one and that may be the culprit.</p><p>Thanks again!</p>
<p>It's interesting to hear it came out more like Werther's. </p><p>I asked Jessyratfink after hearing your results and she suggested it could be the microwaves. I went to look and found out mine is 1100 watts (I've since updated the Instructable so others will know as well). So it could be it just cooked in the microwave too long. </p><p>Even if our microwaves are the same, I want to suggest (I'm no expert, so this is purely a suggestion) that you maybe do a bit less time each round and do the caramel test after stirring it and before sticking it back in the microwave each time. If the caramel (when dropped in water) can be rolled into a little ball, you are already at the stage you want and should stop - no more microwaving.</p><p>If you do decide to try again, let me know how it goes!</p>
<p>So I tried it again, and yes I needed to change the settings on the microwave. (My microwave is 1250 watts) I also adjusted the cook times to 1:45 secs, 1:45 secs, and 1:30 secs, and it came out soft and chewy the way I like it! </p><p>Now that I got the settings down for my microwave, it's time to add pecans and chocolate to the mix. :)</p><p>Thanks again.</p>
<p>That is super great to hear! </p><p>I never think about that my microwave can be different than others; it has always just been, the microwave. I'll have to keep this in mind for future recipes!</p>
Freaking awesome but my dentist doesn't like you
<p>I would say my dentist doesn't like me either, but after I had to pay to fill 5 cavities, maybe he does ;)</p>
<p>Was wondering if you have tried to use parchment paper. I want to try these. Sounds really good and easy. Yum!!!!!</p>
<p>Parchment paper might work, I will probably try wax paper, though, the net time I make it :)</p><p>It really is nice how easy it is to make. The hardest part really (which isn't really hard just time consuming) is wrapping them all up! But you can also just cut them up and store them too as long as they aren't touching or they'll all stick back together.</p>
First of all, nice instructable. I find that using parchment on the baking dish or using silicone bakeware really helps whn making sticky gooey bundles of joy like these carmels.
<p>For the non dairy people, here it goes:</p><p>How to Make Dairy Free Condensed Milk</p><p><br></p><div><a href="http://www.biggerbolderbaking.com/easyrecipe-print/3005-0/" rel="nofollow">Print</a><div><br><div>Prep time<p>5 mins</p><div>Cook time<p>30 mins</p><div>Total time<p>35 mins</p><div><p>Serves: 1 cup</p><div>Ingredients<ul><br><li>1 can (14 oz/414 ml/2 cups) coconut milk (full fat or low fat)*<li>⅔ cups (5 ⅓ oz / 150g) white sugar</ul><div>Instructions<ol><br><li>Add the coconut milk and sugar into a heavy bottomed saucepan<li>Heat it on a low heat until the sugar has dissolved<li>Once all of the sugar has dissolved bring the mix to a simmer over low/medium heat. Do not stir once the mix starts to simmer otherwise it can crack and crystalize<li>Gently simmer for roughly 30- 40 minutes, or until the milk has darkened to an almost grey color,has reduced by half and thickened (After about 15 minutes, you'll notice that the milk will start to turn dark and thicken &ndash; that's ok and is exactly what's supposed to happen)<li>When ready, remove from the heat and pour into a jar to cool. (if there are sugary bits hanging around the rim of your pot don&rsquo;t stir them into your condensed milk, this can also crack your mix)<li>Let the condensed milk cool completely before putting on the air tight lid.<li>Store in a jar in the fridge and it will last for months. Don't forget to label it. </ol><div>Notes<p>The condensed milk when ready will measure 1 cup/8oz.<br><br>You can replace the regular milk with any other dairy free milk <br><br>You can Replace the sugar with a natural sugar like Stevia or coconut sugar</p></div></div></div></div></div></div></div></div></div>
<p>Thanks for providing the recipe :)</p>
<p>Thanks for the suggestions!</p>
Saw this, did this and it was great the first try.... Only downside: My daughter said, she doesn't like things with so much sugar :D More for me then :D
<p>I'm so glad you tried it out! What is with kids these days and their not wanting sugar ;)</p>
<p>I love caramels and plan on trying this recipe. However, I would like to point out that 1/4 C = 4 Tbs. (tablespoons), NOT 4 tsp. (teaspoons).</p>
<p>Thanks for the catch! I'm horrible at my abbreviations :P</p>
<p>I like the microwave for candy making - haven't done caramels and I do love them so thanks for the recipe. Try lining your baking dish with waxed paper - two long strips - one going each way and you should be able to just lift the caramel out of the dish once it is cooled and cut right on the sheets of waxed paper. There are sweetened condensed soy and coconut milk products available that might sub for the diary version though the flavor will be somewhat different.</p>
<p>Wax paper is a pretty good idea. I'll probably try that next time I make them. I wanted to give butter one more shot when I made this Instructable, but it had failed me again.</p><p>It seems like there are many dairy free caramel recipes out there, but I'm not sure if you can make it in the microwave dairy free based on the ingredients. </p>
<p>wow these look really good</p>
<p>Thank you! I have to resist eating too many at once :)</p>
<p>You are AMAZING. I WISH I could have dairy. I think I will need to make these for my son though...he begged me to buy store caramels the other day and I didn't get them! Lol..I would rather make him some!</p>
<p>Hello, I just put a recepie for sweetened condensed coconut milk on the comments! </p>
<p>That is the worst! I'm sure there is a non-dairy way to make them though. There's gotta be!</p><p>I love how easy these are to make and probably much better than store bought anyway. I hope your son enjoys them!</p>
I can have it sometimes...but I will pay for it in stomach pain and issues! These look so worth it! :) Anyway, I will make them for my son, hopefully this weekend. They look incredible. :)
<p>Not sure if it will work in the microwave, but it might: I've made caramels on the stove before, and they call for heavy cream. For non-dairy, I used Silk original creamer, and it worked great. (Do the same thing when I make Smoked Salmon Chowder.) Again, not sure about in the microwave, but I would think it should work. :)</p>
<p>Perhaps Almond Milk would work? Give it a try and let us know.</p>
<p>I have seen caramels made from coconut milk, but I'm not sure how it could be done homemade.</p>

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