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Creamy Rich Chocolate Caramels with Salt

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The recipe is adapted from my recipe for "Black Licorice Caramels" and/or my Chocolate Caramel Recipe. I simply added Vanilla Bean Paste and Pure Vanilla Extract. I added Maldon Sea Salt on top, for that sweet-salty contrast, that has become so popular. My family went nuts over these. They are creamy-chewy and taste as good as Kraft Caramels (maybe even better, if I do say so myself). If you don't like the salt, leave it out! The caramels will still be good. These will become a regular Christmas candy gift idea. Please click on the recipe source to see how I made these.

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (4-ounces) water
  • 2 cups (1-pound) sugar
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup (12-ounces) light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter
  • 1 tablespoon Vanilla Bean Paste (I use Singing Dog Vanilla Brand)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Details

Servings 100
Preparation time 10mins
Cooking time 50mins
Adapted from afeastfortheeyes.net

Preparation

Step 1

I highly recommended using a candy thermometer (that clips on the side of your pot). Candy making isn't difficult, but it's total guesswork if you don't have a reliable thermometer, that will guide you as to when the caramel has been cooked properly.

I also bought a Chicago Metallic CMB039 Marshmallow Collection No-Bake Collapsible Pan with Cutting Gridlines, 8 by 8-Inch (under $15.00) on Amazon. It's a great tool for easily removing caramels, fudge or marshmallows. However, if you have just a plain old pan, I recommend lining it with a parchment paper "slight" and then butter it. The sling will make lifting out the caramel much less difficult.

You will also need a very sharp chef's knife for the best ease in cutting the caramels. Sometimes, I use a little non-stick spray, on the blade of the knife to help the knife glide through the caramel cutting process.

I used a non-stick large heavy pot, because caramel can tend to bubble up pretty high-- so use one that holds at least 4-quarts of water.

Last, but not least, be sure to have all of your ingredients measured out and ready to go. Silicone based spatulas make cleanup much easier than working with a wooden spoon...just my own experience.

In a heavy-bottomed 4-quart saucepan, combine the water, sugar, condensed milk, corn syrup, and butter.

Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly with a heat-resistant rubber spatula.

Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan, ensuring that the tip of the thermometer isn’t touching the bottom of the pan and is inserted at least 1 to 2 inches into the liquid (or according to your thermometer’s directions).

Continue stirring gently while the mixture boils and cooks, until the caramels reach 242-244°F. this took about 40 minutes on my gas burner. If the caramels seem to be scorching on the bottom of the pan, moderate the heat to a lower temperature.

You can also test the caramels using a spoon and dropping a pea-sized amount of the hot caramel into cold water. If the cooled piece of caramel is firm but not hard, the caramel is properly cooked.

Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the vanilla bean paste,vanilla extract, and salt.

Pour the caramels into the prepared pan and allow to cool completely to room temperature, at least 2 hours.

When cool, remove the sheet of caramels from the pan. If you invested in the collapsible pan, you simple unhinge each corner, and gently lift out the entire caramel. Easy peasy!

Cut the caramels into pieces using a large knife or bench scraper. Wrap each caramel square in a bit of wax paper, twisting the ends to secure.
These can store, in an airtight container (individually wrapped) for 1 to 2 weeks, but I doubt they will last that long!

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