Salted caramels

Chewy, slightly soft, very buttery, nicely salty. What more do you want?

Shiny, sticky, sweet sweet, salted caramels

Shiny, sticky, sweet sweet, salted caramels

This recipe scales up pretty well, I had started out with a larger recipe but decided the 170 mL carton of cream is the most common carton. If you want to scale it down, you’d need to find specialist pots though.

  • 170 mL cream
  • 110 g golden syrup
  • 180 g caster sugar
  • 60 g salted butter
  • 2 g salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Choose a pot that will leave plenty of room for the ingredients to bubble up, I used to use the middle size (18 cm) pot in my saucepan set, but lately I picked up a taller 15cm pot. The pot also needs to be narrow enough that the liquid height reaches the thermometer comfortably.

If you’re using a glass candy thermometer in a metal housing, they usually sit right at the bottom of the pan, as the metal is designed to keep the bulb off the bottom of the pan. With a probe thermometer, you’ll need to adjust the clip (before you put anything into the pot) such that it’s at least 5mm off the bottom of the pot, otherwise you’ll a) get the wrong temperature, b) damage the probe and break your thermometer.

Now that you have the right pot and the thermometer is adjusted, weigh all the ingredients, apart from the vanilla, into the pot. Put the pot on a medium heat and stir until all the sugar is disolved. Clip the thermometer to the pot and allow it to come to 125 °C. In the meantime, line a dish with baking paper (I use a 15 cm x 15 cm square dish).

Caramel in a lined dish

Yes, this 15cm x 25cm dish isn’t the dish I call for in the method, but it’s a good dish for a scaled up quantity or a regular quantity with 100g of salted peanuts.

As soon as it reaches 125 °C, take the pot off the heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour into the prepared dish. Any bubbles can be moved with a spoon, or you can just ignore them. Let the caramel set overnight at room temperature. When set, the caramel can be sliced with a big knife. I usually slice off a row then make it into small pieces before cutting the next row, as when you go boldy into cutting the whole thing as a grid it tends to stick to itself.

At this point, the caramel will tend to absorb water and become sticky and start to melt. *shakes fist at the hygroscopic nature of sugar*
Either keep the caramels in an airtight container, separated with waxed papers, wrap them, or dip them in chocolate to … ehh… protect them from the environment.

Salted caramels, carefully placed on non-stick paper.

Salted caramels, carefully placed on non-stick paper.

To make Ladies Mini Marathons, pour the caramel over 100g of salted roasted peanuts (in a slightly larger dish), then when it’s set, cut it up and dip it in plain chocolate. After the cooled chocolate sits for a few seconds, touch the top with a fork to make tiny little pyramids on top. Even if the chocolate’s not well tempered, or the caramels aren’t fully coated, they still taste great and anyone who likes peanuts in caramel and chocolate will be demanding you make more of them, for practise of course.

A montage of ladies mini marathons

A montage of ladies mini marathons

Caramel Slices (or, Diabetes in a Mouthful)

One of my favourite things to have with a cup of coffee is a humble caramel slice. They also make excellent treats to bring in to work (if you try to eat the whole tray at home on your own, I am not responsible for hospital bills). So, when I finished my second PhD rotation, I brought in caramel slices, to make doubly certain everyone would miss me….

Lunchboxes of Doom (and caramel slices)

That's a lot of caramelly goodness

Beware that the caramel is a) pretty intimidating to calorie counters, and b) somewhat tedious to make, but it totally pays off.

First you make the base. This base is nice and crumbly, but you can do a different type of biscuit if you prefer. I’ve been using this base since I first got the recipe for the slices more than fifteen years ago from my neighbour (hi stella! thanks!).

Biscuity base

  • 8oz plain flour
  • 4oz butter
  • 2oz caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 220ºC. Prepare a baking sheet by putting some greaseproof paper on top. Rub the flour and butter together until it has the appearance of breadcrumbs, then stir in the sugar. Tip the crumbs onto the papered tray, and push around a bit until it’s level, but dont press it hard. Bake until golden around the edges (takes about 20 minutes). Leave aside to await its caramelly topping.

Biscuity base

Biscuity base (this also doubles up as a crumble topping, just bake on top of fruit instead of on a tray).

The good stuff (caramel)

  • Can of Evaporated milk (400g I think, also note EVAPORATED, not the other sort)
  • 8oz of butter
  • 4 tablespoons golden syrup
  • Vanilla essence

For the caramel, combine all ingredients apart from the vanilla in a pot. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly. When everything has melted together, bring the caramel to a simmer, and stir constantly, for about forty to fifty minutes, until the caramel coats the back of a spoon. You’ll see it start to thicken and look more like caramel. Also, I’m serious about the stirring, CONSTANT STIRRING. Either farm off some of the stirring time to a younger sibling, or bring a book to hold in your other hand…

Caramel on the back of a spoon

The caramel should coat the spoon nice and thickly when you dip it in the pot.

Pour the thick caramel on to the base and let to cool. Get a big glass of milk to drink while you scrape out whatever is left stuck to the pot (sometimes I leave a bit in the pot instead of pouring it all out, and make myself sick trying to eat ALL THE CARAMELS). When the caramel is cool, you can pour melted chocolate on top. I’m going to assume (never assume etc…) that you can melt chocolate, if not ask someone (me or another adult).

Once the chocolate is set, you can cut it into slices, pop it in a lunchbox, and make yourself a workplace hero!