Homemade Caramels are soft, chewy, and sweet. With only a few pantry ingredients, you can make homemade caramels too, and I promise they’re SO much easier to make than you would think! Plus, they’d make the perfect gift to give out around the holidays.
Prepare the baking dish. Spray a square 8×8 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Line with parchment paper and spray again with non-stick cooking spray.
Add the water, cane sugar, brown sugar, and corn syrup to a medium saucepan. Make sure the saucepan is about four times the size of the liquid you are adding. When you add the cream and butter, the mixture will bubbly and rise to the top so you want to have a pan big enough to accommodate that extra growth.
Turn the heat on medium-high and bring to a boil. Use a pastry brush dipped in water to make sure there are no sugar crystals on the sides of the pan. Once the mixture starts to boil, turn the temperature down so it’s at a steady boil, but isn’t boiling over. Continue to boil the mixture until it reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer.
While the sugar syrup boils, brown the butter. Add TWO TABLESPOONS of the butter to a small skillet and melt over a medium-high heat. When the butter starts to brown on the edges, start to swirl the pan. Continue to swirl the pan until the butter turns a VERY deep brown color and smells very nutty. Remove from the heat immediately and pour into a bowl.
Measure cream in a liquid measuring cup. Add the brown butter and the remaining butter. Heat in the microwave, one minute at a time until the cream is hot and the butter is all melted.
Once the sugar mixture reaches 240 degrees, remove from the heat. Slowly whisk in hot cream and butter mixture. BEWARE. The mixture will bubbly and rise a little bit. Keep whisking, it will eventually go down. Return the saucepan to a medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to continue the boil, but at a more moderate rate, it should be about a medium heat.
Continue to cook the caramel until it turns a deep caramel color and reaches 240 degrees on the candy thermometer. It should take about 15-20 minutes. However, it could take more or less time, so stay very close and monitor the thermometer. When the caramel reaches 240 degrees, remove from the heat and whisk in vanilla. Pour the caramel into the prepared pan.
Once you pour the caramel in the baking pan, let it sit for about 20 minutes. If using salt, sprinkle before it sets up completely. Let the caramels cool another hour and half or longer.
Use a large chef’s knife to cut the caramel into six vertical strips. Use a small pairing knife to cut the remaining the strips into 1 1/4-inch x 1/2-inch pieces. You should get about 42-45 caramels.
Cut wax paper into 45, 4-inch x 2 1/2-inch pieces. Place one caramel in the middle of the paper, roll up and then twist the ends to seal. Repeat with remaining caramels.