Monday, July 29, 2013

Salted Butter Caramels

Yield: 40-50 candies

If you love caramels like I do, this recipe from David Lebovitz is easy and the outcome is addictive! I have left the recipe more or less as he penned it, but 
I have used unsalted butter and eyeballed the salt sprinkled on top of the caramels. Because I like chocolate covered caramels, I melted 70% chocolate for half of the finished caramels.

You can use corn syrup in this recipe but my preference is Lyle's Golden Syrup because of the taste. When cooking the sugar/syrup be certain to stir occasionally as it can cook quickly in certain spots of the pan which will lead to a darker colour.


  • ¾ cup (180 ml) heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, bean paste, or powder
  • rounded 
  • ½ tsp + ¼ tsp flaky sea salt, preferably fleur de sel
  • ½ cup (160 g) light corn syrup, golden syrup (such as Lyle's) 
  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (60 g) total unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature


1. Line a 9-inch (23 cm) loaf pan (or as I did, use a tart pan with a removable bottom) with foil and spray the inside with cooking spray.

2. Heat the cream with 2 tablespoons of the butter in a small saucepan with the vanilla and ½ teaspoon sea salt until the mixture begins to boil. Remove from heat, cover, and keep warm while you cook the syrup.

3. In a medium, heavy duty saucepan (4 quarts, 4l), fitted with a candy thermometer, heat the golden syrup with the sugar, and cook, stirring gently, to make sure the sugar melts smoothly. Once the mixture is melted together and the sugar is evenly moistened, only stir is as necessary to keep it from getting any hot spots.

4. Cook until the syrup reaches 310ºF (155ºC).

5. To get an accurate reading while the syrup is cooking, tilt the saucepan to make sure the bulb of the thermometer is fully submerged in the syrup, tilting the pan if necessary.

6. Turn off the heat and stir in the warm cream mixture, until smooth.

7. Turn the heat back on and cook the mixture to 260F (127C).

8. Remove the pan from the heat, lift out the thermometer, and stir in the cubes of butter, until it’s melted and the mixture smooth.

9. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and wait ten minutes, then sprinkle ¼ teaspoon of the sea salt over the top. Set on a cool rack and let cool completely. 

10. Once cool, lift out the foil with the caramel, peel away the foil, and slice the bar of caramel with a long, sharp knife into squares or rectangles.

Storage: Caramels can be individually-wrapped in cellophane or waxed paper. Once cut, they may stick together if not wrapped. Store in an air-tight container, and they’ll keep for about one month.

Here are a few tips from David:

1. Pay attention all the time. Don’t leave the kitchen with a pot of caramel boiling and use a heavy-bottomed, large saucepan. And be aware that the boiling caramel is very hot so take precautions handling it at all times.

2. Have all your equipment and ingredients ready. Pretend you’re a surgeon and have all your tools well-arranged before you start.

3. Candy making depends on accuracy, so you’ll need a candy thermometer. Don’t use one of those with a probe at the end of a metal cord. I had aPolder one and the device blew out on its first use. When I called, they said if the probe touches the bottom of the pot, which is hotter than the syrup, that can happen. So that was $30 down in the trash and they refused to replace it. Lesson learned.

Hand-held digital probe thermometers are inconvenient for candy making, so I use a simple bulb one, a Taylor. You can get candy thermometers inexpensively in almost any supermarket or hardware store. If you’re unsure if your thermometer is accurate, bring a pot of water to a boil with the thermometer in it; at sea level, it should read 212ºF (100ºC.)

3. Use a heatproof spatula. I am a huge fan of the spoon-spatulas made my Le Creuset. When I taught classes in various Sur La Table stores, I’d get to the stores a few hours early and make a beeline for the Sale rack which was full of discontinued merchandise. Le Creuset runs various colors at certain times of the year (orange, for example, around Halloween, red around Valentine’s Day). And afterward, the items got heavily-reduced so I’d snatch up as many as I could. They’re pretty great.

4. Don’t overstir the syrup. Sugar is a crystal and once you melt it, stirring encourages those crystals to hook back up. So only stir as much as necessary to keep the mixture smooth and to make sure nothing is burning on the bottom.

5. These caramels are slightly firm, but will still melt in your mouth. Waving the blade of a sharp chef’s knife over the flame on a gas burned to warm it will help you get nice, even slices if you do it before each cut.

To see David's original recipe go to:

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