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Mom's Caramels

Author: Barb Alpern

Mom's Caramels Recipe

Barb Alpern, a member of our King Arthur Flour bakers' support team, says about these caramels, "There was one recipe that my mother made each year during the holidays that was truly great. Caramels, in the ethos of my mother's farm upbringing, were a handmade gift, a special indulgence, and a test of culinary prowess." You'll find this candy to be all of these!

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directions on our blog

At a glance

about 10 dozen caramels
Nutrition information


Choose your measure:

  • 8 teaspoons (2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (1 pound) unsalted butter
  • 4 cups (1 quart) half & half
  • 2 cups (1 pint, 16 fluid ounces) light corn syrup*
  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • *See "tips," below.
  • coarse flake sea salt for topping, optional; for salty caramels


  1. Butter two 8" x 8" or 10 1/2" x 6 1/2" pans. Measure the vanilla into a small container, and set it aside for later.
  2. Cut the butter into 1" chunks, to help it melt faster. Combine the cut-up butter, half & half, corn syrup, sugars, and salt in a heavy-bottom, 5- to 6-quart saucepan.
  3. Heat the mixture over medium-low heat until everything has melted, stirring constantly. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan.
  4. Cook slowly, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 248°F, or until a small amount dropped in cold water forms a firm ball. As the mixture boils it will become thicker and thicker and the frothy bubbles will give way to a more blurpy bubble that resembles thick lava. This happens gradually, but you'll notice it around 230°F and higher. This is when you really have to pay attention and watch the temperature carefully, as it tends to move more quickly from 230°F up. The whole process will take about 2 hours.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat, and carefully stir in the vanilla; the mixture will bubble and boil.
  6. Quickly pour the caramel into the prepared pans. Don't add any residue from the pot into the pans; instead, scrape it into a separate container. Baker's treat!
  7. Wait 30 minutes, then sprinkle with coarse-flake sea salt, if desired.
  8. Cover the candy securely, and refrigerate.
  9. Remove the candy from the pan by loosening its edges with a knife or offset spatula, and banging the pan on a cutting board until the slab releases from the pan. Allow the candy to warm up a bit if it's hard, or it'll shatter when you bang the pan.
  10. Cut the caramels into squares, and wrap in waxed paper. Store in the refrigerator for longest shelf life. Wrapped caramels can also be frozen.
  11. Yield: about 10 dozen 1" caramels.

Nutrition Information

  • Serving Size 1 caramel (28g)
  • Servings Per Batch 120
Amount Per Serving:
  • Calories 90
  • Calories from Fat 35
  • Total Fat 4g
  • Saturated Fat 2.5g
  • Trans Fat 0g
  • Cholesterol 10mg
  • Sodium 45mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 15g
  • Dietary Fiber 0g
  • Sugars 15g
  • Protein 0g

* The nutrition information provided for this recipe is determined by the ESHA Genesis R&D software program. Substituting any ingredients may change the posted nutrition information.