I am undeniably a caramel fiend, but these are delicious. They’re soft, so no chewing until your jaw aches here (which is probably dangerous as they’re very moreish) and they have a hint of saltiness that pairs so well with caramel. They’d make a great stocking filler, you can buy cellophane sweet bags cheaply on ebay so you could individually wrap the caramels and pop them in a bag or box and give them away.
Unlike caramel sauce which you can do by eye, you need a thermometer for this recipe as the sugar needs to get to the right temperature for the caramels to set properly. I used to be avoid making caramel, finding it way too easy to cock it up, but I’ve learnt it’s about being gentle, patient and mostly letting the sugar do it’s thing. A good thing for me to learn, the impatient heavy-handed klutz that I am!
Stir the sugar very gently with a silicon spatula in the early stages, I’d describe it as more of a very light dragging motion to ensure any bits of sugar are properly absorbed into the syrup and then put the spatula down and don’t pick it up again until you stir the cream in. Once it’s near temperature, swirl the pan to distribute heat. Don’t stir! If I feel tempted to stir, I use my digital thermometer (so it’s just a thin metal probe).
200g caster sugar
160g golden syrup
180ml heavy cream
½ tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
¾ level tsp of flaked sea salt + ¼ for sprinkling on top
60g unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
1. Line a 23cm (9 inch) loaf pan with greaseproof paper coming up on 2 sides and lightly oil the other sides of the tin.
2. Put the sugar and golden syrup into a medium (4L) heavy duty pan. If you have a clip on sugar thermometer, attach that to the pan now. Put on the hob ready, but don’t heat up yet.
3. In a small saucepan, heat the cream with the vanilla, the ¾ tsp of sea salt and half (30g) of the butter until the mixture begins to boil. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
4. Put the sugar pan on medium heat and cook, stirring gently, to make sure the sugar melts smoothly. Once the mixture is melted together and the sugar is evenly moistened, don’t stir any more. Swirl the pan gently if necessary to distribute any heat pockets.
5. Cook until the syrup reaches 155°C.
6. Turn off the heat and stir in the warm cream mixture, until smooth. Be careful as it can bubble up quite a lot.
7. Turn the heat back on and cook the mixture to 127°C.
8. Remove the pan from the heat, remove the thermometer, and stir in the cubes of butter, until it’s melted and the mixture smooth.
9. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and wait 20 minutes, then sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of the sea salt over the top. Put the tin on a cooling rack and let cool completely. Once cool, lift out the parchment paper with the caramel. If you’re having trouble getting it out, heat the tip over a flame or in hot water, then run around the edge betweens your caramel and the tin. Slice into squares with a sharp knife. If your knives aren’t sharp and you want neat squares, heat your knife up when slicing the caramel.
You can wrap individually in waxed/parchment paper or cellophane, or layer them on top of pieces of parchment paper in a box. They are likely to stick to each other if they touch. These caramels will keep in an airtight container for up to a month.