I have no idea where these caramels got their name. All I know is they are fabulous and my mom has been making them for years! I am pretty sure she got the recipe from the next door neighbor, Elaine, who is a great cook!
I make at least 2-3 batches every year to give away and share with my little family! My kids are crazy about them. I also like to mix up this caramel recipe for things like Caramel Rice Crispies and other goodies that call for caramel.
On occasion I will have a batch that I don’t cook quite long enough and they are a little two soft to wrap, when that happens I eat it with apples or the softer caramel still makes awesome caramel rice crispies, but I love to use it for one of my favorite treats, Oatmeal Caramel Turtle Bars. ( I have got to get that recipe up soon…maybe I will purposely mess up a batch of caramels this year.)
If you are looking for a go-to caramel recipe, this is it folks! Simple ingredients and delicious results!
I never use a candy thermometer, but if you like to use one you will want to cook these caramels to firm ball stage which is 245°F-250°F.
When I make them I keep a cold cup of water next to the oven and test a spoonful of the caramel mixture when it starts turning a light brown color. I usually use about three or four cups of cold water before it is at the firm ball stage, so if your oven isn’t close enough to the sink you may want to keep three or four cups of cold water close by to do the testing.
When you drop the mixture into the cup you should be able to form it into a ball with your fingers and it should be firm enough that it will hold it’s shape but is still pliable. It will be the color of a light brown paper bag. Here are a few pictures that might help you…
Keep the vanilla and your cup of water (if you aren’t using a thermometer) near by.
Once it is boiling, stir continuously and watch for it to start turning light brown. This is the very beginning of it starting to turn brown, it takes about 8-10 minutes or so from when the mixture starts boiling.
As it continues to boil and you continue to stir, taking care to make sure you are always scrapping the bottom and sides of the pan, it will get darker and thicker. This picture was about four minutes after the above picture. I usually test it at this point just to see how it is doing. It is usually almost at the softball stage at this point.
Keep stirring and watching it closely, this picture was about four minutes after the previous one and we are almost there. Notice how thick it looks and it’s color is close to that of a light brown paper bag. Test it at this point, if it comes together easily and keeps it’s shape it is ready. (Eat the part you tested, it should have the texture and feel you want your caramels to have.) If it is ready you need to move fast! Remove it from the heat and quickly stir in the vanilla and get it in the 9×13 as quick as possible, you do not want it to move past the firm ball stage. It will be hard, and not chewy if you cook it too long.
Good luck! It really isn’t as hard as it sounds, and once you do it once, you will be a pro!
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream, room temprature
- 1¾ cups light karo syrup
- 1 cup butter, room temprature
- 1 tsp vanilla
- course sea salt (optional)
- pecans (optional)
- Butter a 9x13 pan and set aside.
- Prepare thermometer or set up a few small cups of cold water near your oven so you can check the caramel when you see it turning light brown. You want it to be firm ball stage. (see above post for more details about firm ball stage)
- Combine sugar, cream, karo syrup, and butter in a large pot. It needs to be a 4 quart pan because once the mixture boils up it will be get within about 1½ inches from the top of the pan.)
- Bring combination to a full boil, while stirring constantly.
- At this point you can turn the heat down a few notches but keep the mixture boiling, and continue to stir constantly.
- It usually takes mine about 20 minutes to get to the firm ball stage, but watch your thermometer or check the mixture in a cup of cold water to make sure it is moving along.
- Once the mixture reaches firm ball stage quickly stir in the vanilla and dump directly into the buttered 9x13 pan, do not scrap the sides. (I scrap the sides of the pan out onto a little buttered plate and eat that myself while I wait for the rest to cool)
- If you want to add pecans to all or part of the caramels you can press them into the top of the caramel while it is still warm.
- If you want to add course salt, sprinkle a small amount on top of caramels immediately after pouring them into the 9x13 pan.
- Let cool for at least 2-3 hours before cutting and wrapping in wax paper.
- I usually cut mine in inch size pieces and get about 80 caramels.
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