Introduction: Homemade Salted Caramel
Salted Caramel seems to be all the rage these days and it's easy to see why - butter, sugar, and sea salt harmoniously joined in the happiest of food unions is certain to please a crowd.
My favorite cupcake shop in SF made these awesome salted caramels and generously shared the recipe on their blog* and I had to have a go at creating this favorite sweet treat.
*All the following recipe info is attributed to Cups&Cakes' blog and their text is noted by bold/italics; photos and other text is my own process.
Step 1: Gather Ingredients and Supplies
You don't need too much to make salted caramels, but there are a few key pieces that'll make your life a lot easier.
Gather these supplies:
1 medium (3-5 quarts is fine), heavy-bottomed pot.
1 long-handled wooden spoon
1 rubber spatula
9″ x 9″ pan
Parchment Paper (to line the pan)
Non-Stick pan spray
1 candy thermometer (range up to 350* at least) – make sure it has a clip to attach it to the side of the pot!
measuring cups (pyrex works great)
digital scale (regular measurements also included)
Wax paper for wrapping caramels
And these ingredients:
8 oz. (1 c.) butter, unsalted
14.5 oz (2 1/4 c.) light brown sugar
11.5 oz (1 c.) light corn syrup**
1 – 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 tbs Vanilla1/2 tsp. saltwater for brushing the sides of the pot
Fine Sea Salt, for sprinkling
** I came up shy on the light corn syrup so I substituted honey and it worked beautifully.
Step 2: Prep Your Pan
Cut two layers of parchment to line the pan, all the way up the sides. Spray a light coating of pam all over so your caramels don’t stick!
I also recommend some masking tape for the sides to keep the parchment paper in place while you pour if you don't someone handy to help with this quick step.
Step 3: Measure Out All Ingredients Ahead of Time
Wise words to make the rest of the process go smoothly. You'll be thankful you've done this so you don't burn your butter or scorch this precious golden liquid down the line.
Step 4: It's Getting Hot in Here
Low heat - slow and steady.
Step 5: Pour Some Sugar on (butter)
Once butter is melted, pour the brown sugar in the center of the pan. If any sugar crystals stick to side of pan, push them down with a wet pastry brush so they do not crystallize the entire batch and make you want to cry. Stir slowly until well combined with melted butter.
Step 6: Bonus Note: Corn Syrup + Honey = Awesome
I was a bit short on corn syrup so I substituted honey for the difference and it was still completely delicious and the desired consistency.
Step 7: Add Corn Syrup and Sweetened Condensed Milk
Stir to combine. Brush the insides of the pot down with a wet pastry brush once again.
If you don't have a pastry brush, a rubber spatula will do. Just try to keep the sides clean as you go.
Step 8: Stir, Stir, Stir
Cook and stir on medium for about a minute.
Stir, bringing to a boil on medium high heat. Once boiling, clip on your candy thermometer (don’t let it touch the bottom of the pan).
I can’t reiterate this enough – KEEP STIRRING!
Temperature doesn’t raise at a steady rate, so keep your eye on the thermometer. This can take a while, anywhere from 15-30 minutes. Once your caramel reaches 244 degrees, pull the caramel from the heat.
For a few minutes, this pot should have your full attention. My little video illustrates the bubbling buttery goodness that will need to be constantly stirred in order to keep the consistency right and the bottom from becoming scorched. It's a wild ride, this caramel, but also lots of fun.
Step 9: Stir in the Vanilla and Salt
Things are starting to quiet down. Keep some salt for the crystals on the top!
Step 10: Pour Into Lined Pan
Leave it to set on the counter. You can cool them a little faster in the fridge, if you need to.
Promise salted caramels to someone here and have them lend a hand in holding the parchment paper back or (if you're flying solo) try the masking tape trick here.
Step 11: Cut and Wrap
Wrap these up with wax paper for gorgeous little gifts, or just put a knife down next to it and watch them disappear!
Step 12: Enjoy!
I wrapped some for little gift bags and kept about half the batch as a slab with beautiful sea salt crystals on top and just set a knife next to it for group gatherings. Both were delicious, but the wrapped ones ended up having a bit of a dry crust just around the edges which was excellent!
Thanks again to Cups&Cakes for the great recipe and to all of you for reading along!