Do you love caramel as much as I do? Do you love salted caramel as much as I do? Do you love anything with pumpkin in it and salted caramel as much as I do? Are you sick of these questions and just want to make some darn yummy homemade caramels?
Well, if you answered yes to any of the above questions, this recipe is for you!
If you don’t own a candy thermometer, you’ll need to get one to make these caramels. You can find candy thermometers at any kitchen supply store and they even carry them at most grocery stores now too. If you don’t have one, can’t find one, or just don’t want to buy one…you can do an old trick for soft ball candy that I’ll explain down below. Keep in mind though that having a reliable thermometer will make the job easier and produce consistent results.
BTW: These could easily also be called “Pumpkin Pie Caramels” because they taste just like a bite of pumpkin pie!
To make regular salted caramels, just leave out the pumpkin and the spice!
2 cups packed dark brown sugar
2/3 cup dark corn syrup
1/3 cup real maple syrup
1 tablespoon molasses
2 teaspoons good quality pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
1 teaspoon sea salt (I use Fleur de Sel)
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 sticks unsalted butter
Add all of the ingredients except the butter to a large heavy bottomed pan.
Put the pot on a large burner on medium low heat and stir the ingredients together until just smooth, then add in the butter.
Stir with a rubber spatula until the butter is melted and the sugar is completely dissolved.
Clip your candy thermometer on to the back of the pan where you can easily read it, then turn the heat up to medium high until you get a nice rolling boil.
Stir constantly so that the caramel doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pan and scrap the sides of the pan with the spatula so that you don’t get sugar crystals forming on the sides. Be very careful while stirring and scraping as the mixture is very hot!!!
Cook the caramel until the mixture registers 238 degrees or soft ball stage on the thermometer (about 15 minutes). The mixture will get thick and gooey and be slightly harder to stir as it nears the end stage.
Remember the trick I told you I would mention? If you’re not using a thermometer, watch for the thick gooey stage and then drop a small amount of the caramel into a glass or bowl of cold water. Give it a second or two in the water and it should come together and form a soft ball of candy. If it does, it’s ready.
When the caramel is ready, remove it from the heat and continue to stir gently until it stops boiling. Generously butter a small glass dish (size doesn’t matter here). Pour the caramel into the glass dish and cool completely (a few hours or until you can handle it without it being hot – slightly warm is OK)
TLB Tip:This method of making caramel is the same method for making and covering caramel apples. Prepare your apples first by washing and drying them (be sure to remove all of the wax if apples are not home grown or organic). Stick wooden dowels, or chopsticks, or popsicle sticks into the center of the apple and put into the fridge until the caramel is ready. Once the caramel is cooked to 238 degrees, remove from heat until the temp reads 200 degrees. Dip and twirl the apples into the caramel and put aside to set slightly before adding any other toppings such as nuts, chocolate, etc.
When the caramel is cool to the touch, run a butter knife around the sides to separate the caramel from the pan. Flip the pan upside down and ease the caramel out onto a cutting board.
Using a pizza cutter, bench scraper, or sharp knife, slice the caramel into thin logs length wise, then cut each log into smaller rectangles or squares. If you want to be more precise and less “rustic” you can measure each piece on a scale so they are all the same size. I happen to like the homemade random look, so I just eye ball them.
*Make sure that the caramel is completely cool before wrapping or the caramels will stick to their wrappers.
Cut squares of parchment or wax paper with scissors and place each piece of caramel onto a square. Sprinkle a little more sea salt on top.
Roll up length wise then twist the ends to seal!
You can also roll the caramels into finely chopped nuts such as pecans or almonds!