Making soft, chewy, chocolate caramels, the kind you find in the expensive gourmet shops, is much easier than you think! And you can make this heavenly sweet confection in less than an hour!
Back in November, I made a list of recipes that I wanted to share with you this month. A salted chocolate caramel recipe was NOT on it. But I woke up night last week in the wee hours and couldn't go back to sleep. I got up and read for a while and then (surprise, surprise) got in the mood to cook. I'd run across a recipe for chocolate caramels and couldn't resist trying it. We already have a delicious (and super easy) recipe for regular caramels but the thought of chocolate caramels was intriguing.
I'm surprised Scott didn't wake up because within thirty minutes a wonderful chocolate-caramel aroma was wafting through the house as the little sleepless elf was stirring, stirring, stirring at the stovetop. Within 45 minutes I was finished with a pretty pan of salted chocolate caramels cooling on the countertop and sleepy dust beginning to finally settle on my eyelids.
In the morning I was delighted to see that the caramels had set up perfectly, not too soft, not too hard. And when I went to cut them, they were soft and pliable, but kept their shape nicely. The only thing left was the taste test.
You might frown on me, but I served Scott his breakfast that morning with a little taste of caramel on the side. But you have to realize, this is our job. And we do it for you, haha!
Well, we both concurred that the chocolate caramels were definitely blog-worthy. They're soft, chewy, with fabulous chocolate caramel flavor - and definitely worth adding to the December blog roll!
Stir, stir, stir
Yes, you do have to be attentive when making these chocolate caramels. That being said, you don't have to be stirring continuously. It's just important to be in the kitchen and give the mixture a good stir every couple of minutes.
How do you know when you're done?
Making caramels can be a little tricky when it comes to knowing when the simmering mixture is done and ready to transfer to the pan. Cook it too long and the results are hard caramels that are difficult to bite into. Cook it too short and the resulting caramels are gooey and sticky.
But that's a problem that easy to solve. A good quality (but inexpensive) candy thermometer makes consistent caramel-making results super easy! I really like this digital thermometer as it actually has a little alarm that beeps when you're getting close to the finish temperature.
How to cut caramels
Now that you've made this beautiful pan of chocolate caramels, you need to cut and wrap them. Let's talk about cutting first. I like to put the caramel pan in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes. This firms up the caramels a bit so they're easy to remove from the pan without distorting the shape.
Choose a long, sharp knife and spray it with cooking spray. When the caramels have cooled a bit in the refrigerator, remove them from the pan with the parchment paper extensions. I like to measure and score the surface of my caramels before cutting to ensure even pieces. You can decide if you want squares or rectangles. I like a rectangle that's about one half inch thick and about 2 inches long. I've found that a classic metal tape measure is almost perfect in width for my caramels.
Once the caramel is measured and scored, cut it along the scored lines with the prepared knife. Press the tip of your knife into the side of the caramel farthest from you and draw the knife towards you, cutting quickly and evenly.
How to wrap caramels
Once the caramels are cut, it's time to wrap them to keep them fresh and from sticking together. Some people like to use wax paper, others like parchment paper. Personally, I really like these clear cellophane wrappers. The caramel doesn't stick to them, they show off the candy and they twist nicely.
To wrap each caramel, place a wrapper on a work surface. Place a caramel in the center of the wrapper. Fold the bottom of the wrapper up over the caramel, then start rolling the caramel toward the top end of the wrapper. Twist the ends several times and repeat with the remaining candies.
A wonderful gift!
There are caramel lovers and chocolate lovers out there but these Salted Chocolate Caramels satisfy both of those sweet tooths. Scott dropped off a little carton of these caramels to a friend of ours who owns our local wine shop. His wife is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of American so this guy knows good food!
He sent a text to us later that day:
"Oh. My. Gosh. These are absolutely the most delicious candies I have ever eaten!!!!"
We created a gift label to make giving these chocolate caramels a little more fun and festive. We're happy to share the free printable PDF for the labels. Just leave us a comment in the comment section below letting us know that you'd like them. We will email the PDF to you with instructions on how to print and use the labels. The recipe makes a big batch, so you'll have plenty to enjoy and share!
I like to use the cute little boxes pictured above. They come in a pack of 25 and are reasonably priced. I like to line the bottom with some pretty tissue paper then add the wrapped caramels and finish off with another piece of crushed tissue to keep the caramels from wiggling around.
Make these caramels asap!
If you've got an hour to spare (or wake up one night and can't sleep), make a batch of these delicious salted chocolate caramels. But beware! Your family, friends, neighbors, anyone you decide to share them with will be begging you to make them again and again!
Café Tips for making these Easy Salted Chocolate Caramels
- This recipe calls for "good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips". When you're making candy, using good quality ingredients will ensure delicious results. I use Ghiradelli 60% Cacao for this caramel recipe which can be found at most larger grocery stores in the baking section.
- I really love these heat resistant spatulas with a sturdy wooden handle. I have 8-10 of them and find that I use almost all of them every day. They feel good in my hand and are useful for stirring hot mixtures like these chocolate caramels but also for mixing up cakes, bread, cookies, etc.
- When making these chocolate caramels, keep the mixture boiling at a steady roll. You want to keep it boiling but don't allow the boiling to creep up the edges of the pan.
- You'll need a candy thermometer for this recipe. I left a link for the one I like in the post above. If you have an older candy thermometer you may want to check it to ensure that it's still accurate. To do this, simply boil a pot of water. The thermometer should read 212˚F when the water boils. If your thermometer is a degree or two off from the boiling point of 212°F, you'll need to subtract or add the difference to the recipe's final cooking temperature. For example, if your thermometer reads 210°F in boiling water, you'll want to cook the candy to 238°F, not 240°F. If your thermometer is more than a few degrees off, it's time to buy a new one!
- You don't have to stir this caramel mixture continuously but stay in the kitchen and give it a good stir every few minutes, scraping the sides and bottom of the pot. I've learned to hold onto the top of the candy thermometer when I stir so I don't dislodge it from the pot and make a mess on my stovetop.
- When the thermometer reads 23o˚F, that's when you'll want to stay right at the stovetop as the temperature can rise quickly at this point and also this is the point where you want to stir continuously to prevent burning.
- When you reach 240˚F, remove the pot immediately from the heat, give the caramel mixture one more stir, then pour it into the prepared pan.
- Be sure to wait 10 minutes as instructed in the recipe before adding the sea salt. Otherwise, the salt will just disappear into the hot caramel mixture.
- The recipe calls for flaky sea salt. I'm a big fan of Maldon Flaky Sea Salt. It's a delicious finishing salt which means it's not used for everyday use but rather to add flavor and a little crunch to finish dishes. I keep a little bowl of Maldon on my countertop and use it every day. It's more expensive than regular or kosher salt but a box will last a long time. To use it, just grab a pinch between your thumb and forefingers and rub them together to break up the large flakes a bit.
- One last little tip. It's important to line the pan that you pour the caramel mixture into with parchment paper. Make sure that the paper extends over the long edges of the pan. This will make it easy to remove the cooled caramels from the pan without destroying the shape. To keep the parchment in place I use a few small binder clips attached to the top of the pan.
Thought for the day:
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
What we're listening to for inspiration:
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear other’s results and ideas for variations.
Making soft, chewy, chocolate caramels, the kind you find in the expensive gourmet shops is much easier than you think! And you can make this heavenly sweet confection in less than an hour!
- 2 cups packed brown sugar
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup butter I use salted
- 1 cup good quality semi sweet chocolate chips
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- for sprinkling flaky sea salt
Spray a 9x13-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray and rub to coat (the bottom and the sides of the pan) with a paper towel. Line the pan with parchment paper with 2 sides of the paper extending over the long edges of the pan. Spray the parchment lightly with cooking spray. Set the pan aside on a hot pad or cooling rack.
Combine the brown sugar, corn syrup and sweetened condensed milk in a medium-size (3 quart) heavy gauge saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add the butter, chocolate and vanilla. Stir well to combine. At this point attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pot. Make sure the tip of the thermometer is not touching the bottom of the pot.
Continue cooking, maintaining a steady boil and stirring every few minutes. (I like to keep my hand on the top of the candy thermometer when I stir so I don’t knock it out of the pot with my stirring.)
When the temperature reaches 230˚F begin to stir the mixture continuously to ensure that it doesn’t burn.
Continue to cook and stir until the candy thermometer reads 240˚F. Immediately remove from the heat and pour the the caramel mixture into the prepared pan. Smooth to an even layer.
Cool for 10 minutes, then sprinkle with the flaky sea salt.
When fully cool, refrigerate the caramels for 10 minutes. (This will firm up the caramel a bit and make it easy to remove from the pan.)
Use a small sharp knife to loosen caramels if needed from the short ends of the pan. Lift the caramel slab out of the pan and onto a cutting surface. Lift up the caramel and remove the parchment paper.
Spray a long sharp knife lightly with cooking spray. Cut the caramels into squares or rectangles. Wrap with cellophane wrappers or cut parchment paper and twist the ends. (See the post for more details on cutting and wrapping.)
See Café Tips above in the post for more detailed instructions and tips.
Recipe adapted from Sharing Thyme