Introduction: Caramel Recipe

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My mother makes epic soft caramels, and I'm pleased to share with you her secret:  Aunt Glady's Caramel Recipe.  

The recipe as handed down to me is sparse, but contains all necessary information.  In an effort to make it slightly more accessible to those of you who might be new to candy-making, I'm including my own comments on the techniques here-in.

Even if you've never made candy before in your life, you will enjoy this recipe.  It's simple, as long as you follow along closely, and put your faith in a quality candy thermometer.   I highly recommend a digital one like this which I got after making this Instructable, but since prefer!

Be advised - once you share these caramels, you will be overwhelmed with requests for more!

Step 1: Materials

  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter ( 1 cup / 2 sticks)
  • 1 lb. light brown sugar (a whole box!)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 2/3 cup chopped walnuts (opt)


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Step 2: Pan

Lightly coat a baking sheet with cooking spray or butter.  I used a casserole dish because that's what I had.  Then, to make it easier for me to lift out the caramels later, I lined the pan with waxed paper (buttered parchment would also work).

Buttering the tray before adding the paper helps keep it from slipping around while you're pouring in the hot caramel mixture.

Since I wanted to try making half of this recipe with nuts, I sprinkled them on half of the surface.

Step 3: Cook

In a large pot over high heat, bring cream, corn syrup, sugar, and butter to a boil, stirring until sugar has dissolved.

Continue to cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until mixture reaches 248oF (120oC),
firm-ball stage on a candy thermometer, about 20 minutes.

Step 4: Pour

Remove from heat and immediately stir in 1 teaspoon of vanilla.  It's gonna act like a volcano when you do this, so be prepared to jump out of the way of wayward caramel splashes.

I also like to stir in a dash of salt at this point because I love salty + sweet.  If you're adding nuts to the whole batch, stir them in now too.

Pour into the prepared pan and let stand uncovered for 24 hours on a heat-safe surface.  (If you leave it on a painted wood surface, it will cause the paint to bubble!  I mean, so I heard.  I wouldn't make such a silly mistake)

Step 5: Cut and Share

Aunt Glady's Caramels have a very specific wrapping procedure to them, that I learned by my mother's side.   I hope these pictures illustrate the technique I have spent all these years perfecting.
  • Cut the caramels into small squares.  A pair of kitchen shears is great for this.
  • Cut a square of waxed paper and center a small caramel on it.
  • Bring two opposite edges of paper up to meet above the center of the caramel.
  • Fold the edges together downward until they rest snugly against the caramel.
  • Fold the remaining two edges under.
  • Cut the caramels and wrap them in waxed paper to share.
This is by far the most time consuming (and fattening) step!

When giving as gifts, consider presenting them in a festive paper cone.  Enjoy!

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