Caramels

  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt (I usually just add a pinch)

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  • 1/4 cup (59 ml) water
  • 1 1/3 cup (266g) sugar
  • 1/4 cup (75g) corn syrup (I use Karo)

Directions

  1. Take a square pan, say 8 or 9 inches on the sides, and line it with tin foil that is no-stick. You can also spray the foil with oil.
  2. Bring the first group of ingredients to a boil. The vanilla bean should be sliced down the middle with the inside scooped out and tossed in the pot. Stir. Turn off flame. Let steep. This can be for 10 minutes or you can put it, when cool, in the fridge, and leave it steeping for overnight.
  3. Put the second group of ingredients in a large, heavy bottom pot. Try to avoid having the sugar go near the edges. You’re going to heat these ingredients without stirring at all. You want to get to 300 degrees on the candy thermometer. If you put the flame very high, it will cook faster but could burn. So, you want to put the flame high enough so that it heats up but not too high. The original recipe says it takes 7-9 minutes but I think it usually takes closer to 15 +.
  4. Lower flame after the mixture reaches 300 and swirl the pan. You need to be patient because the mixture needs to reach 350 degrees. Now, the flame is lower but with patience, the mixture will turn amber and reach 350.
  5. At that point add the mixture with the cream. Note that it’s probably best to remove the vanilla bean before combining the two mixtures. It will bubble a bunch. That’s why a larger pot is ideal. Stir lots and cook until reaching 248 degrees.
  6. Turn off the flame, put it in the pan. Careful, this is very hot. Don’t touch it. After ten minutes or so, sprinkle sea salt a top. Then, let it sit on the counter for an hour and then in the fridge an hour. Then it can be removed from the pan, the foil should be peeled off and you can slice.

    Notes

    – It’s helpful to watch the YouTube video of America’s Test Kitchen making the recipe.

    – No matter how often I make this, it always takes at least twice the length of time that the recipe suggests. However, my preference is to not burn the caramel.

    – It’s very important to get everything set up in advance and be extra careful to avoid getting burned.

    – Cleaning the pot afterward is not a big deal if you promptly fill it with water.