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Christmas Candy - Dark Salted Caramels

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Location: USDA Zone 8a
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At Christmas, we have always made lots of candy.  My mother made divinity every Christmas, I usually made peanut brittle and fudge, and my sister liked to make popcorn balls so we had a nice variety to give as gifts.

After I married, my mother in law made candy too so it was fun to help her.

This is dear hubby's favorite:

Dark Salty Caramels - Recipe courtesy of Alton Bown


14 1/2 ounces sugar

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup light corn syrup (*see Substitutes, below)

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 cup heavy cream, room temperature

2 teaspoons soy sauce

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature

1 teaspoon coarse sea salt



   Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper.

   Combine the sugar, water, corn syrup, and cream of tartar in a heavy 4-quart saucepan and put over high heat. Stir occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Cover and continue to cook for 5 minutes.

   Meanwhile, combine the heavy cream and soy sauce in a liquid measuring cup. Have this and the butter standing by.

   Remove the lid from the sugar mixture, and attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. When the sugar mixture reaches 230 degrees F, reduce the heat to medium and cook, without stirring, until the syrup is a golden color and is approaching 300 degrees F, about 6 to 7 minutes. At this point, there is less likelihood of any crystallization, so gently swirl the pan to break up any hot pockets.

   When the temperature approaches 350 degrees F, it will turn deep amber. Remove the pan from the heat, and gently swirl again to break up all of the hot pockets. Cool for 2 minutes.

   Carefully incorporate the cream and soy mixture and the butter into the pan. Stir to combine. Return the caramel to medium heat, stir until the butter is completely melted, and continue cooking until it reaches 255 degrees F. Remove from the heat and pour into the parchment-lined pan, tap gently to release air bubbles.

   Cool on a cooling rack for 30 minutes, and then sprinkle evenly with the salt. Continue cooling on the rack for an additional 3 1/2 hours. Cut into 1-inch pieces and wrap individually in parchment. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Light Corn Syrup Substitutes

   1 cup sugar dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water.
   1 cup honey.
   1 cup light molasses.
   1 cup maple-flavored syrup (pancake syrup)
   1 cup agave nectar.
   1 cup brown rice syrup.


America's Test Kitchens Video for DIY Salted Caramels

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Location: Chicago
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Sounds yummy, the soy sauce is an interesting addition.

My son started us making caramels this year, using the recipe below that we adapted.  For Christmas we replaced half the corn syrup with maple syrup and honey:

(Adapted from ”Vegan Food for the Rest of Us” by Ann Hodgman)

Start this recipe at least 8 hours before you want to eat the caramels.

2 Tbsp Coconut oil
One 13 oz can full-fat coconut milk (Chaokoh brand, if available)
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup toasted chopped pecans

Grease a square glass baking dish with coconut oil. Spread pecans out evenly. Set aside.

Heat coconut milk, 1/2 cup of the corn syrup, and salt until just warmed through and stir to dissolve any lumps. Set aside. (may sub honey or maple syrup here)

Grease the inside of a large (at least 8 qt) non-reactive pot. Add the sugar, 1/4 cup of corn syrup and water. Cook stirring over medium high heat until mixture reaches a boil.

Stop stirring and reduce heat to medium-low. Watch the mixture. During this phase, you may gently stir in any crystals that form at the edges, otherwise let the mixture be. Cook until the mixture turns light amber and candy thermometer reads 310º F.

Remove the pot from heat and—being careful to avoid spatters—pour in the coconut milk mixture.

Return the pot to the store and stir over medium-low until lumps are dissolved. Raise heat to medium and cook stirring constantly until the thermometer reads 240º F. This could take 45 minutes or more.

Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Pour into the prepared pan.  Let cool 6 hours or overnight.

Using a straight-edged metal spatula, cut the caramel into one-inch strips, and then cut each strip into bite-sized pieces and wrap in waxed paper.
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