How to Make Caramel Squares
Caramels are a rich, creamy, and tasty treat that both children and adults love. Homemade caramels are also fun to make, but cooking with sugar is a science and it requires some precision. The keys to making homemade caramel squares are using a candy thermometer and reading the recipe through before you start. Once you get the hang of making these caramels, you'll have a great gift, dessert, and treat that you can use for any occasion.
1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream
1 cup (225 g) sugar
½ cup (120 ml) corn syrup
¼ teaspoon (1.25 g) salt
4 tablespoons (56 g) butter, plus more for greasing
½ teaspoon (3 ml) vanilla
Making the Caramel
Gather your supplies.This recipe makes about a pound (454 g) of caramels. To make them, you'll need your ingredients, along with a few supplies that will make the job easier, including:
- Large heavy-bottomed saucepan
- Wooden spoon
- Pastry brush
- Candy thermometer
- 10-inch square baking pan greased with butter, or lined with parchment paper
- Pizza cutter or sharp knife
Heat the cream, sugar, corn syrup, and salt.Combine them in the heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat over medium heat. Stir to combine, and continue stirring regularly until the sugar melts.
- It’s important to use a saucepan with a heavy, or thick, bottom because this will help prevent the sugar from burning.
- Make sure you use heavy cream or heavy whipping cream, which both contain at least 36 percent butterfat. This fat quantity is required for the caramelization process.
Add the butter.Stir in the butter until it melts. Once the butter has melted, bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. As you wait for it to boil, brush down the sides of the saucepan with a pastry brush to remove as much sugar as possible.
- Brushing the excess sugar off the sides will help prevent the caramel from crystallizing.
Heat the caramel, then add the vanilla.When the mixture comes to a boil, stop stirring. Sit back and let the caramel heat up to 250 F (121 C). When it reaches that temperature, remove it from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
- It’s important that you don’t stir the caramel as it heats up, because the agitation can encourage the growth of sugar crystals, which will turn your soft and chewy caramel into a grainy mess.
Pour and cool the caramel.Immediately pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan. After you pour the caramel, you can sprinkle the top with a few pinches of salt if you want a salted caramel flavor. The salt complements the sweetness, and helps bring out the flavor of the caramel.
- Once the caramel has been poured, set it aside and let it cool to room temperature, about two hours.
Cut the caramel into squares.When the caramel has cooled, turn it out onto a flat surface. Use the pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut the caramels into one-inch (2.5-cm) squares.
- From here, the caramels are ready to eat, cover in chocolate, or package for gifts or storage.
Storing Caramel Squares
Wrap the caramels individually.Whether you want to eat your caramels within a few days, give them out as gifts, or store them for a longer shelf life, it’s important to wrap them individually. This protects them from moisture, and from sticking together.
- For each caramel, cut a four-inch (10-cm) square of waxed paper, parchment paper, or plastic wrap. Wrap up each caramel square in an individual piece of paper, and then twist the ends to seal the caramel.
- Because of the milk in the recipe, room temperature caramels should be eaten within about three days.
Refrigerate them to enjoy later.Once the caramels are individually wrapped, you can transfer them to a sealable plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator. Keeping them in a plastic bag will help keep them chewy and soft.
- Refrigerated caramel squares will last for about three months.
Freeze them for an extended shelf life.To keep your caramels fresh for longer, transfer the individually wrapped treats to a freezer bag, press out all the air, and store them in the freezer.
- Before using or eating your caramels, give them a few hours to thaw completely.
- Caramels stored in this way will last for up to six months.
Covering the Caramels in Chocolate
Cut the chocolate.One way to make caramel squares even more decadent is by covering them with chocolate, and you can do this easily and with just one ingredient. You'll need:
- One pound (454 g) of milk or semi-sweet chocolate. Cut the chocolate into small pieces to help it melt faster and more evenly.
- A double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, you can use a small saucepan and a large glass bowl.
Heat the chocolate.Fill the bottom of the double boiler with about an inch (2.5 cm) of water. Place the bowl or top of the double boiler on top, making sure it doesn’t touch the water. If it does, pour out a little of the water.
- Place the chocolate into the top of the double boiler and heat it over medium heat. Stir it regularly.
- When the chocolate has completely melted, whisk it vigorously until it’s shiny. Turn the heat down low to keep the chocolate warm as you work.
Roll the caramels in chocolate.When the chocolate is ready, drop a few caramels into it. Use two forks or spoons to roll each caramel around in the chocolate, coating each one evenly.
- When the caramels are covered, transfer them to a sheet of wax or parchment paper and set them aside to cool before serving or wrapping.
QuestionWhat sugars can I use to make caramel?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou can use white sugar, brown sugar, or a mixture of the two to make caramel. Brown sugar may result in a darker caramel, because there is more molasses in it. Most recipes that call for evaporated milk will use brown sugar instead of white.Thanks!
QuestionCan you omit the corn syrup?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerCorn syrup is actually an integral ingredient in caramel and many other candies. It acts as an interfering agent, meaning it helps prevent the sugar in the recipe from crystallizing. If the sugar crystallizes, your caramel will be grainy. You can experiment with substituting other ingredients for the caramel--such as honey or rice syrup--but you shouldn't leave it out.Thanks!
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