How To Make Caramels For Someone You Like

A couple of years ago, I came across this incredible recipe for salted caramels. I know that sounds super fancy, like you need a granite-topped kitchen with two ovens to make it, but I assure you it's totally not. You basically just need butter, sugar, cream, salt, and an excellent sense of timing; when you're making caramels, I've discovered, mere seconds can determine whether you end up with a pan of chewy deliciousness or a pan of brittle filling-wrenchers that needs to be scraped into the garbage as soon as it's taken off the stove.

Actually, you also need a candy thermometer. But apart from that, you're good.

This recipe for salted caramels has been my go-to way of impressing people since the moment I first made it. (I can't do the splits, so that's out, and I'm not related to a Beatle, despite the fact that many drunk people in bars have asked me if I am, upon finding out that I'm English. You know, because we all know each other. There's, like, twelve of us in the whole country.)

I've made the salted caramels for dinner parties, I made them for a bake sale at work, and last year I even bought out all the butter in six neighboring Costcos and made 400 of them as wedding favors. (I didn't really use all that butter. Though it sure did seem like it.) Sean made a customized label for the wedding caramels---you probably can't read it in this picture, but the small print says "Established September 5, 2009"; hey, when I do a theme, I do a theme---and my sister and I packaged them up in glassine bags, then put a bag at each person's place at the table. They went down very well with 99% of the guests, although my grandma---not reading the label, I guess---confessed to my mother the next day that she hadn't quite known what to make of them. "Those toffees Holly gave us were very nice," she said. "But they were awfully salty."

Anyway, you didn't think I'd go on for four paragraphs about these super-easy salted caramels and not give you the recipe, did you? Because I'm going to. But first I'm going to show you how I made them for my friend's birthday this weekend. My friend, you see, loves these caramels---or least she's told me she does; maybe she was just being polite---and so I wanted to give her a whole batch of her own as a present. Nothing says "I will take your secrets to the grave and also I think your hair is looking really good these days" like a little sugar, cream, salt, and butter, right?

To make these caramels, you will need the following things; look, I arranged them all on my kitchen counter just for you:

Lunch bags, heavy cream, sugar, a candy thermometer, sea salt, light corn syrup, butter, parchment paper, wax paper, chocolate, and an 8x8 tin. Excellent sense of timing not pictured.

Then you will need to follow the recipe for the salted caramels, which is below (via Epicurious):


Fleur de Sel Caramels

1 cup heavy cream

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces (I often use salted, and I think it's even better)

1 teaspoon fleur de sel (I use Morton's sea salt, although the Trader Joe's sea salt is good too)

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1/4 cup water

Special equipment: parchment paper; a deep-fat thermometer

Line bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, then lightly oil parchment. Bring cream, butter, and fleur de sel 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 heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil, without stirring but gently swirling pan, until mixture is a light golden caramel. Carefully stir in cream mixture (mixture will bubble up) and simmer, stirring frequently, until caramel registers 248°F on thermometer, 10 to 15 minutes.

Pour into baking pan and cool two hours. (I sprinkle them with sea salt before I do this; gives them a lovely crunch.) Cut into 1-inch pieces, then wrap each piece in a 4-inch square of wax paper, twisting two ends to close.


When you are done, you will need to marry a graphic designer and have him create some labels* for you. You probably won't want to round the corners with a special corner-rounder like a CERTAIN perfectionist sicko did, but you will want to stick them onto brown paper lunchbags, just like this:

*(By the way, do you guys know about the Xyron? It can make ANYTHING into a label. I bought one for my wedding---they're about thirty bucks on Amazon; I have this one and it's great---and now I have to physically restrain myself from making, like, my old credit card statements into labels. The stickers above, for instance, were just printed onto plain white printer paper on our regular old home printer. Then I ran them through the Xyron, and hey presto, they became stickers. That stick to things! It's the future! I know!)

Anyway, if you are planning on melting some chocolate in a double boiler and dipping half your batch of cut-up caramels into it with a toothpick once they're set---this isn't in the recipe, but I kind of just winged it because I thought it would taste good, and BOY DID IT EVER---then make sure you create two different labels for the two different flavors. The first will say one thing:

And the second will say something else:

That's pretty fancy, huh? Just like real candy from the store.

Once your caramels are set (the chocolate-dipped ones will need a little longer), wrap each one in a square of wax paper and pour them into their separate brown paper lunch bags. Fold the tops down a few times, and then go totally over the top like me and seal each one with a strip of tissue paper and a piece of some old weird hempy material that you bought for a wedding project and ended up never using, basically because it looked like old weird hempy material. (Although it totally works here with the brown paper bags, so I guess that's recycling in action, folks. Look at that.)

(I only put the matching strip on the bottom to cover up a butter stain that was annoying me. You don't have to be quite so OCD.)

And there you go: two bags of homemade salted caramels! If I'd actually thought about this properly, I could have posted it in time for Mother's Day.  But hey, maybe now you can just make them for Father's Day instead. Your dad is going to be so psyched about my crappy timing.

Also, now have a glass of champagne. That was hard work.

May 11, 2010

Yum. Oh, yum. Although I have to confess, I love to bake but am terrified by recipes that involve boiling milk and double boilers and melting things and...well, you get the picture. Although I have already married a handy graphic artist, so I feel like I have a leg up on this project already, potentially.

May 11, 2010

Hello from across the pond! Recently discovered your blog - loves it.

Unbelievably tempted to make these as favours for my wedding in August. Sounds like its definitely worth the hassle? Also whats the UK equivalent of heavy cream? I presume it's double cream?

May 11, 2010

"When you are done, you will need to marry a graphic designer..." I love that this is a part of the instruction manual. :-)

May 11, 2010

Thankfully, I AM a designer, so I am probably most comfortable with that part, ha. Now I need to go buy a candy thermometer because these sound delicious!

May 11, 2010

wow...that is awesome! thanks for the receipe...ever considered going professional? my home econs teacher made me swear to never ever cook again after i burned down the school's kitchen!

May 11, 2010

Will you be posting "How to make caramels for someone you DON'T like" soon? ;-)

Wonderful recipe, can't wait to try it!

May 11, 2010

I just want to be the "someone you like" part of it so I can RECEIVE the caramels. I freaking love caramel. No one else in my family has this affliction. Although I just made for Mother's Day brunch some orange and white chocolate muffins. I love baking! Candy scares me because of Murphy's Law. So, just teleport some to Maryland, please!

May 11, 2010

Wow. So odd. I've seriously been craving salted caramels for the past 3 days LIKE I'VE NEVER CRAVED THEM BEFORE. This weekend, I swear to God I was thinking about the ones you made for your wedding & wondered to myself how difficult they'd be to make myself. And now I know!

Going out to buy a thermometer tonight. Thanks, Holly!

Locusts and Wild Honey
May 11, 2010

Yay! It is a very very good thing to be liked by the lovely Holly Burns.

Believe her when she says this recipe impresses. I LIVE for birthday salted caramels. LIVE FOR THEM.

Amy --- Just A Titch
May 11, 2010

I am thinking this will make a good project over the summer. They look amazing.

Amanda S
May 11, 2010

Ok so I Love your blog and have been reading for a few weeks or so and Love making these carmels. I recently had these at a Austin food and wine festival and wanted to share with you. It is heart warming good and they ship.

May 11, 2010

They sounded so good when you were talking about them before your wedding that I saved the recipe with a plan to make them for my next event and then totally forgot. Now I'm all excited again and my parents 50th Anniversary is coming up in July. I think I've decided on a party favor! Thanks. Also for the Xrylon tip, which I now must have.

How far in advance can you make them?

Nothing But Bonfires
May 11, 2010

Rach -- yes, I think double cream would be perfect.

Diann -- I'd say you can make them about a week in advance if you need to. They're actually best a day or two AFTER you make them, but I always forget to be that prepared. For the wedding, I made them in batches starting on Sunday, and the wedding was the following Saturday and no-one was poisoned.

May 11, 2010

you are SO crafty. seriously. i'm impressed.

May 11, 2010

I kept waiting to see what the actual finished food product looked like! I am totally impressed with the lovely and creative presentation, but must see caramels! Off to your Flickr to see if they are there!

Nothing But Bonfires
May 11, 2010
May 11, 2010

Try these as well (also via Epicurious): They are gorgous and delicious.

Camels & Chocolate
May 11, 2010

Lucky lady! I can attest: Those caramels are the BOMB. (Yes, I still live in 1994, shut up.) Alas, I learned as I made caramel frosting for some homemade Samoa cupcakes that my sense of timing when it comes to cooking flat out sucks.

I have been hoping you would share this since you first mentioned making them for your wedding.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Now to just get the nerve to make them. :)

May 12, 2010

Looks beautiful! And OH, how I cherish my Xyron.

May 12, 2010

Thanks for the photo link. They look lovely and creamy.

May 12, 2010

I really must try these soon. Thanks for the recipe!

May 12, 2010

Ok, now I need a Xyron.

cathy | pixiesticks
May 14, 2010

I've been making these for everything since you posted the epicurious recipe during the wedding prep and find it endless satisfying - makes me feel like a chemist. also? people think I'm talented and brilliant FOR MELTING BUTTER AND SUGAR and I love that.

May 16, 2010

I saw this recipe and totally thought of you and this post...

May 17, 2010

I've made this recipe a few times now, *and* *love* *it*! You're presentation ideas are fantastic too :-)

May 17, 2010

De-lurking to say YUM. Oh, and my brother works for Xyron. I have more gadgets and things than you could ever imagine. I just might be willing to swap for a bag of those salted caramels ;) Thanks for sharing the recipe!

May 19, 2010

Just made these tonight. They are resting right now. So nervous that they won't turn out, but I'm crossing my fingers. They look super!

May 28, 2010

I am just waiting for the instructions on "How to Make Caramels for Someone You DON'T Like." :)

Jun 21, 2010

Just saw this recipe the other day and I instantly thought of you...

Nov 22, 2010

I made these just the other week and felt so incredibly ACCOMPLISHED. And Yummm! Just one question... mine started to get little sugar crystals about a week after I made them. They tasted wonderful and I'm certain they didn't go bad... But is there a way to keep them soft and creamy longer?

Dec 04, 2010

Fantastic! I made sea salt caramels last year (slightly different recipe, but really similar) and am now addicted. I love your description and totally identify (um....over the top, anyone? LOL) Thank goodness I'm also married to a graphic designer, so that I can complete the recipe appropriately!

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May 16, 2013

This is awesome. Since my husband and I moved to the California desert, I've been trying to be crafty (homemade bread!) and one of the things on my list is salted caramels (for real, I'll show you if you need you proof.) Thanks for this -- fun to find your blog and more fun to read your snarkiness. Erin

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