These soft and chewy Sea Salted Caramels are possibly the easiest homemade treats you can make using simple pantry ingredients. They are sweet and buttery with just the perfect amount of saltiness to keep you coming back for more! Make a batch to keep on days when you are hankering for something sweet or to give away to friends and family on special occasions or holidays.
Caramel candies are a beloved treat by many - sticky, sweet and chewy with a pop of crunchy sea salt for balance. I love making a batch of these sea salted caramels to give out around the holidays, and when I worked as a private chef, I always made them as a special treat to end dinner parties. This is a classic candy recipe that you can easily make at home whether you're a trained chef or kitchen novice.
This popular confection is made even more delicious with the addition of crunchy sea salt flakes which further enhances its rich buttery goodness while adding another layer of flavor and texture. If you adore this sweet-salty flavor combo just like I do, you should definitely try my Fudgy Salted Caramel Chocolate Brownies and Salted Chocolate Caramel Ice Cream Cake.
Why this recipe works
- Melt-in-your-mouth sweet goodness with bits of salty crunch!
- Made with six pantry-friendly ingredients only.
- No special equipment is needed- just your regular baking pan! No candy thermometer? No worries- you can still make these homemade treats without one.
- This recipe will give you perfectly textured caramel candies all the time- guaranteed!
- Easy to store and can be frozen for longer storage.
- They make the perfect thoughtful, homemade gift or giveaway.
- Sugar - Use white granulated sugar for this recipe. It melts easily and results in a smooth and silky caramel mixture. Do not substitute this with other types of sugar.
- Corn syrup - This is an important ingredient that is responsible for ensuring that the sugar does not crystalize and clump together. Some call it glucose syrup because it is essentially made of 100% glucose. However, take note that not all glucose-based syrups are made of corn starch. Make sure you are buying light corn syrup and not dark.
- Heavy cream - Contains around 36% to 40% fat which is needed to thicken the sugar syrup mixture. You may also find this in the grocery store labelled as heavy whipping cream. If you are unsure which one to buy, check on the amount of fat percentage on the back of the cartoon or can.
- Butter - Use an unsalted variety for this recipe. Adding butter will give the candies that soft, chewy texture that we love.
- Salt - Using sea salt not only adds flavor to the candies but also a nice contrasting crunch. I recommend using flaky sea salts like Maldon or Fleur de Sel.
- Candy thermometer- While this is not necessary for making great caramels, a candy thermometer is highly recommended to achieve consistent results. Take note though that a regular instant read thermometer does not reach temperatures high enough to work for this application.
Make the Sugar Syrup Mixture
- In a medium to large saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water. Use a small spoon to stir until everything is combined, and then ditch the spoon. You don't want to stir anymore or else it will cause the sugar to crystalize. If using a candy thermometer, which is recommended, clip it to the side of the pot and be sure it's completely immersed in the sugar mixture.
- Bring the sugar syrup to a boil over medium-high heat until it starts to turn golden in color. Don't take your eyes off of it. If it appears to be browning unevenly, give it a gentle swirl to help it caramelize evenly.
Add the Cream and Butter
- When the caramel turns a deep golden brown (around 300 degrees or so), lower the heat and then whisk in the butter and the cream. It will bubble up like crazy, so be very careful and be sure you're using a large enough pot so it doesn't spill over the sides.
- Once everything is combined, stop whisking and turn the heat back up to medium-high. Continue cooking until it becomes a few shades darker and reaches about 250 degrees (hardball stage) on the thermometer. Remove from the heat.
Pour and Chill to Set
- Pour the molten caramel into an 8x8 pan that's been lined with parchment paper and coated with cooking spray.
- Sprinkle with a few generous pinches of flaky sea salt. Bang the pan against the counter a few times to release any trapped air bubbles. Cool the caramel completely for several hours so that it's firm. This process can be sped up by placing the pan into the refrigerator or freezer.
Slice, Wrap and Enjoy!
- While the caramels are setting, cut several pieces of wax paper into small rectangles and set them aside. When the caramels are set, remove them from the pan, peel off the parchment, and then cut them into long strips. If the caramels stick to your knife, spray it with cooking spray before proceeding. Sprinkle the strips with more salt if desired, then cut them into small pieces (I like a 2-bite size, but cut them however you like).
- Wrap the individual caramels in pieces of wax paper, twisting the ends to seal. Store at room temperature for up to 2 weeks, or freeze in an airtight ziplock bag for longer storage.
Tips for success
- Stop stirring the sugar syrup mixture once it is fully combined. This will prevent crystals from forming on the sides of the pan due to splashes. If you need to do so because the mixture is not evenly browning, use a gentle swirling motion only. You can use a wet silicone brush to remove the sugar splashes if necessary.
- Once the sugar syrup mixture starts to turn brown, make sure to pay attention to it. It can quickly burn if you leave it unattended and will make the caramel bitter and too dark. You will not be able to fix it at this point and would have to start again.
- I highly recommend using a tall wooden spoon or spatula to prevent any burns on your hands as the mixture can get hot, especially when the cream and butter are added. A tall, heavy-bottomed pot will help in cooking the caramel mixture evenly with less mess.
- The caramels will be much easier to cut when they're cold. If it is still sticking when you slice, just spray a bit of oil on the knife.
Frequently Asked Questions
This occurs when the mixture reaches 250 to 266 F and the sugar concentration is really high. The easiest way to check this is through a candy thermometer. If you do not have one, good visual cues are a dark golden color and the formation of drippy threads when you stir upwards.
Place the wrapped candies in a cool dry spot or an airtight jar at room temperature for up to two weeks. If you want them to last longer, you can place them in the freezer for as long as six months. Let them thaw overnight before taking a bite.
While both confections are made primarily of heated sugar, butterscotch uses brown sugar which contains molasses giving it a different flavor.
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