This is the only caramel recipe you will ever need. Easily turn it into chewy caramels, soft caramels, and even caramel sauce just by adjusting 1 ingredient. The flavor is amazing and it's so easy to make!
For the Caramel Candy
- 3 cups white sugar
- ½ cup salted butter room temperature
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla Extract
- ½ teaspoon fine grind sea salt
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- Chocolate Dipping Sauce
- ½ recipe Chocolate Dipping Sauce (see notes below) optional
- course salt for topping caramels optional
Making Caramel using the Dry Method
- Fill a small bowl with ice cold water. Measure out all of your ingredients and make sure your sauté pan is completely dry. Cube up the room temperature butter into Tablespoon size pieces. Leave the cream out of the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
- Add the sugar to a very dry sauté pan that is ideally about 10" in diameter. A smaller pan will work, but you will have to stir longer and it will take longer for the sugar to turn into caramel.
- Turn the heat on medium high. Stir (with a wooden spoon or high heat spatula) the sugar frequently and as it heats up, you will start to see "sugar rocks" forming. This is the first step in making the caramel. Every stove is different, so adjust your heat down if the sugar starts to turn golden before it has a chance to form the "rocks."
- Continue to stir and pull the granulated sugar to the center of the pan until almost all of the sugar has formed into "rocks" and starts to turn a light golden color.
- Stir constantly once the "sugar rocks" start to melt and darken in color and reduce your heat to medium. Once all the sugar has liquified and turned an amber color, the first part of making caramel candy is done. To check this, drop some of the hot liquid sugar into a bowl of cold water and if it sets up hard and brittle, you have reached the correct temperature.
- Add in the cubed butter and stir to combine. Add in the heavy whipping cream and stir. The mixture will bubble with each of these additions. It may take a little bit of stirring to combine the cream, but it will come together. Remove the pan from the heat and add in the salt and vanilla, stir until the bubbling up subsides.
- To test the consistency of the caramel, drop a little bit into cold water. It should form a soft ball on the bottom of the bowl and when you lift it out, it should be stretchy and soft. If it doesn't hold it's shape when dropped into cold water, put it back on the stove and cook over medium heat, repeating the cold water test every few minutes until you reach the desired consistency for your caramel.
- Pour the caramel into your prepared 8x8 pan and allow it to sit at room temperature until it has completely set. This usually takes about 90 minutes. You can leave the caramel in the pan for several days before cutting it. Do not refrigerate the caramel or it can absorb too much moisture and disolve.
Cutting the Caramel
- Once the caramel is completely set, it should be slightly flexible, but not too soft, it's time to cut it into squares.
- I like to apply some butter to the knife to prevent it from sticking to the caramel. Remove the caramel from the pan, leaving it on the parchment paper and place it on a cutting board or other flat surface that can be cut on.
- Cut one-inch strips of the caramel and then cut each strip into 1" squares. Depending on how you cut the caramel, you will end up with about 64 pieces.
Dipping in Chocolate
- Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave or use my technique for melting chocolate: Easy Dipping Chocolate
- Dip each piece of caramel into the chocolate using a fork and then push the dipped caramel off onto a parchment lined tray using a butter knife. Top with coarse sea salt if desired. Repeat for all the caramel candies and let them sit at room temperature to set up.
- Once the chocolate has set and formed a hard outer coating, make sure each one is completely covered in chocolate and if you see any caramel peeking through, dip it again in the chocolate. This will prevent the caramel from absorbing any moisture and leaking out of the candy.
- The best place to store your chocolate covered caramel is in a single layer in an airtight container and left at room temperature in a cool dry place. You can also freeze it, but when thawing it, leave it in the airtight container until completely thawed to avoid moisture condensation from forming.
- One of the best things about this recipe is the ability to change the texture of your caramel by only changing the amount of the heavy cream.
- Here are my suggestions based on the texture you want to achieve.
- For chewy caramel that is slightly hard at first and then softens as you chew it use 6 Tablespoons of heavy cream.
- For slightly chewy caramel that has a soft texture use 8 Tablespoons of cream, which is what this recipe calls for.
- For a caramel sauce that will pour, but set up as a soft caramel with very little chew, use 9 Tablespoons of cream.
- For a caramel sauce that will pour and not set up, use 10-12 Tablespoons of cream.
- Remember, you can do the cold water test after adding or subtracting the cream from the recipe and the texture of the caramel once it is set up will be very similar to what you see and feel when you take the caramel out of the cold water.