These homemade chewy caramels covered in chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt are a luxurious treat that are surprisingly easy to make!
This recipe is sponsored by Go Bold With Butter.
Leave me alone with a bag of caramels and I will eat them all, I just can’t help myself! They’re one of my favorite candies. And lucky for me, they’re quite simple to make!
These homemade caramels are chewy, have a rich buttery flavor, and they literally melt in your mouth. Covered with bittersweet chocolate and a sprinkling of coarse sea salt they become even more irresistible. Make a batch for a homemade gift, to share during the holidays, or as a special treat for any occasion.
How to Make Chocolate Covered Caramels
As I’ve mentioned, caramels aren’t difficult to make but they do require attention and planning. Before you start making caramels it’s important that you read the instructions all the way through, and have all of your ingredients and equipment ready. If you’re prepared, you’re less likely to burn the caramel or overshoot your temperature and you’re more likely to succeed.
Ingredients for Homemade Caramels
Here’s what you’ll need to make caramel candy at home:
- Salted butter— I prefer to use salted butter, but if you only have unsalted, add a pinch of salt.
- Heavy cream
- Granulated sugar
- Light or dark brown sugar
- Light corn syrup— It helps prevent sugar crystallization and grainy caramels, don’t shy away from it!
- Pure vanilla extract
Equipment You’ll Need
- Heavy-bottom saucepan— The caramel will double in size as it cooks so make sure there’s enough room.
- Candy thermometer— I highly recommend a digital thermometer.
- Heat-proof spatula
- 8 or 9-inch square baking pan lined with parchment paper
The role butter plays in homemade caramel
Butter gives caramel candies their luscious flavor and melt-in-your mouth feel. It also helps create caramel’s softer and more chewy texture.
Some caramel recipes instruct you to add the butter and other dairy (like milk or cream) at the end after the sugars are caramelized. But in this recipe, all of the ingredients (except for the vanilla) are cooked together so that the naturally occurring sugars within the butter and milk/cream caramelize as well. This results in caramel with a much more complex and intense flavor. More caramelization = more delicious flavor!
Do I really need a candy thermometer?
Using a digital candy thermometer is the easiest way to ensure caramel success. There’s no guesswork needed, it does it all for you! You’ll know exactly when to pull the caramel off the heat so that the caramels turn out soft and chewy and not rock hard.
That being said, you can also use the cold water test. Simply drop a teaspoon of the caramel mixture into a glass of cold water. Use your fingers to roll the caramel into a ball. If it holds its shape but is still malleable, then it’s done. If not, keep cooking and test in a few minutes.
What Temperature should caramels be cooked to?
Soft and chewy caramel candies should be cooked to 240-250°F, depending on whether you like super soft caramels or caramels that are more firm. I found that about 245°F was the perfect sweet spot. Also, these temps work only if you are at sea level. If you are higher than sea level, you’ll need to adjust accordingly:
- 2,000 feet— 238-244°F
- 5,000 feet— 232-238°F
- 7,500 feet— 227-233°F
Caramel takes anywhere from 35-45 minutes to reach temperature, but don’t try to rush it. Keep the caramel on consistent medium heat and give it a good stir with your spatula every few minutes to prevent burning.
During the first 20 minutes or so I’m much more relaxed and will even multitask, but once the caramel is 10-15° away from my target temperature I stay close and stir more often.
Work Quickly, Then Let Cool and Slice
As soon as your caramel has reached its temperature, remove it from the heat and immediately stir in the vanilla (Have the vanilla measured and ready in a bowl next to the stove so you don’t have to spend any extra time on it). Then quickly pour it into the prepared pan. Caramel sets quickly as it cools so you only have a few minutes once it’s off the heat.
It will take about an hour at room temperature to cool completely, but you can speed that up by placing it in the fridge for a few minutes. If you let it chill completely in the fridge it will be tough to slice, so don’t leave it in for long.
Use the overhanging parchment to lift the caramels out of the pan, then transfer it to a cutting board and slice with a sharp knife.
How to Dip Caramels in Chocolate
Now comes the really fun part! Of course you can skip this step if you’d like and just eat the caramels (I wouldn’t blame you!), but a chocolate coating and sprinkling of salt goes a long way to make these caramels fancier and even more delicious. Who can resist the sweet and salty combination?
And it’s so fun and simple:
- Melt semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate in a bowl. You can do this in a double boiler over the stove, or in the microwave in 30 second bursts.
- Drop caramels in the chocolate and cover them completely with the help of a fork.
- Use the fork to lift the caramels out of the chocolate. Tap the fork against the edge of the bowl, encouraging excess chocolate to drop back into the bowl. Use a toothpick or another fork to ease the chocolate covered caramel onto a pan lined with parchment or wax paper.
- Sprinkle with coarse salt (this is my favorite).
- Let them set for about 20 minutes until the chocolate has cooled.
These chocolate covered caramels will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a few weeks (if they last that long!). It’s likely that they will stick to one another, so you may want to place a sheet of parchment or wax paper between each row.
More homemade candy recipes to try
- Classic English Toffee
- Salted Caramel Nut Brittle
- Coffee Toffee
- Soft Caramel Corn
- Homemade Caramel Apples
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Chocolate Covered Caramels
- 1 cup granulated sugar (200 grams)
- 1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar (105 grams)
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1 ½ cup heavy cream (325 ml)
- 1/2 cup salted butter (1 stick, 113 grams)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate , chopped or use chocolate chips
- 1 tablespoon flaky or coarse sea salt
- Line an 8 or 9 inch square baking pan with parchment paper and set next to stove.
- In a medium heavy bottom saucepan, add granulated sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, heavy cream and butter. Measure vanilla and set next to stove.
- Set pan over medium heat and stir until sugar is dissolved and mixture is smooth.
- Insert a candy thermometer and continue to cook mixture, stirring often, on medium heat to 240-250°F (see Notes), approximately 35 minutes.
- As soon as caramel reaches temperature remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Working quickly, pour caramel into the prepared pan.
- Let caramel cool completely, about 1 hour at room temperature.
- Use parchment paper to lift caramel out of the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Slice into 1 inch pieces (or as desired) with a sharp knife.
- Melt chocolate in a heat proof bowl set over a bowl of simmering water, or in the microwave in 30 second bursts. Stir until smooth.
- Drop caramels into melted chocolate and use a fork to remove it from the bowl of chocolate, letting excess chocolate drop back into the pan.
- Place covered caramels on a pan lined with parchment paper or wax paper and sprinkle with some of the salt.
- Let cool for 20 minutes until chocolate is set. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a few weeks.
- I highly suggest reading through the post above for tips and helpful info for these caramels.
- Make the following adjustments if cooking above sea level: 2,000 feet— 238-244°F, 5,000 feet— 232-238°F, 7,500 feet— 227-233°F
Disclosure: This recipe was created in partnership with Go Bold With Butter. Thank you for supporting partnerships with brands I love and believe in, which make Completely Delicious possible. All opinions are always 100% my own. To learn more about Go Bold With Butter, you can visit their website here. You can also find them on facebook, instagram, and pinterest.