Soft Caramels are among the most popular of all confections, and in any box of assorted chocolates they are very likely to be the first to disappear. Lucky for us, caramels are fun to make, and there are few things more delicious than a just-made caramel candy. Even better, they’re perfect for sharing and gifting.…
Soft Caramels are among the most popular of all confections, and in any box of assorted chocolates they are very likely to be the first to disappear. Lucky for us, caramels are fun to make, and there are few things more delicious than a just-made caramel candy. Even better, they’re perfect for sharing and gifting.
What’s In Caramel Candies?
SUGARSugar provides sweetness and bulk to the candy.
CORN SYRUPThe purpose of corn syrup is to prevent the recrystallization of the sugar and to contribute to the chewy texture of the candy. Soft caramels normally contain a high proportion of corn syrup, nearly equal to that of sugar.
DAIRY PRODUCTWhile fresh dairy products such as milk or cream may be used in caramels, processed dairy products such as evaporated milk or sweetened condensed milk are more common due to their lower water content and their greatly reduced cooking time. Regardless of the dairy product used, it provides the milk solids that give caramels their characteristic color and flavor, and it helps the candy hold its shape when being cut after it is cooked.
BUTTERButter provides flavor and a shorter texture to caramels.
SALTSalt is an optional ingredient; it can be added to improve the flavor of the candy. In sweets, salt acts as a flavor enhancer, bringing out the richness of the browned dairy ingredients.
FLAVORINGVanilla extract and salt are the most common flavors added to caramels, but other flavoring agents such as extracts, fruit purées, or spices may also be added.
How It’s MadeCaramels are fundamentally simple to make; sugars and dairy products are cooked to remove water and develop color and flavor, while being stirred constantly to prevent scorching. The most crucial step in cooking soft caramels is the temperature to which they are cooked: Undercooking leads to very soft candies; overcooking results in caramels that are too hard to comfortably bite.
- Combine the milk product, sugar, corn syrup, salt, and flavorings and stir while boiling. Unlike candies that do not contain milk, soft caramels must be stirred constantly while cooking to prevent scorching. Caramels have a decided tendency to boil over during cooking, so the heat must be carefully moderated to prevent spills.
- Add butter. The butter is usually added part way through the cooking process.
- Cook to final temperature. The temperature to which the caramels are cooked determines the consistency and is critical to the caramels. The consistency of the batch can be verified by testing in ice water.
How It’s FormedAlmost without exception, soft caramels are poured into a pan or frame and allowed to cool. Once cooled, they can be cut with a knife.
How Else Can I Use It?Soft caramel is the classic coating for caramel apples. The recipe requires no changes to make your own caramel apples or other caramel-dipped products. These delicious jewels can be further gilded by rolling them in toasted nuts or by allowing the soft caramel to cool and then dipping them in chocolate.
How It’s StoredLike most candies, soft caramels are susceptible to damage from moisture, so they must be protected from humidity. Cut caramels should either be individually wrapped immediately or else dipped in chocolate to insulate them from moisture.
Ready to make your own Soft Caramels? Try our recipe:
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