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Gingerbread Caramels

Heady with ginger, clove, and nutmeg, these gingerbread caramels make sweet stocking stuffers and party favors. See Caramel-Filled Cones for the how-to. Caramels should be individually wrapped in cellophane or waxed paper to prevent them from sticking to one another.

  • yield: Makes about 12 1/2 dozen
Photography: Sang An

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Ingredients

  • 4 cups (2 pints) heavy cream
  • 2 cups light corn syrup
  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Vegetable-oil cooking spray

Directions

  1. Step 1

    Lightly coat a 12-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Line with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on short sides; spray paper.

  2. Step 2

    In a large pot over high heat, bring cream, corn syrup, sugar, butter, and molasses to a boil, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Continue to cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until mixture reaches 248 degrees (firm-ball stage) on a candy thermometer, about 20 minutes.

  3. Step 3

    Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla, salt, and spices. Immediately pour onto prepared sheet, without scraping pot. Let stand, uncovered, 24 hours at room temperature (do not move pan).

  4. Step 4

    Generously coat a large cutting board with cooking spray. Lifting it by the parchment overhang, invert caramel onto the cutting board; use a sharp knife to loosen parchment, and remove. Cut into 1-by-1 1/4-inch pieces. Wrap each in cellophane or waxed paper. Caramels can be stored up to 1 month in airtight containers.

Source
Martha Stewart Living, December 2007

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Reviews (26)

  • helvetica123 20 Dec, 2012

    This recipe didn't work that great for me. When I went to stir in the spices, they all clumped up like crazy and I had to whisk like a maniac, and still the finished product had clumps of ground clove in it, gross! Next time I would stir the spices in sooner.

  • kyz23 22 Dec, 2010

    I just made these today and they are AMAZING!!! So yummy! Mine are still pretty soft but they taste so good! I dont know if i'll actually have any left to wrap because we keep picking at them!!! So easy to make as well and very unique!

  • Rosie2000 14 Nov, 2010

    This will be the third Christmas I will have made these for gifts. Everyone raves about them, and they are already asking if I plan on sharing this year!

  • blondchef 14 Dec, 2008

    This recipe is a nice holiday variation on the standard caramel candy. I was concerned when reading the directions that you should let it cool overnight. I cut the candy after about an hour because I could tell that overnight it would be hard as a rock. It took much longer than 20 minutes to reach 248. I've given to many friends as gifts and have received rave reviews. I also used regular salted butter, then cut back the added salt to just under 1/2 tsp. I used kitchen shears sprayed with PAM to make cutting a breeze. Very time consuming to wrap though. It made about 200 caramels 1"x3/4" in size.

  • bonnoslobbo 5 Dec, 2008

    YES, test your candy thermometer! After getting two batches of peanut brittle too dark, I tested mine (using the boiling water method described above) and found it was SEVEN degrees off! Made the adjustment for the next two batches and they were perfect. I wouldn't even TRY candy making without a thermometer. I've had too many failures!

  • tiffanyburns 18 Nov, 2008

    Use a really BIG pot when cooking. My largest was not big enough and I had to pour some out and cook separately. These were done in 20-25 minutes and while seemingly hard in the pan and when cutting, they are the perfect texture when eating. However, next time I will double the spices and perhaps add a touch of cayenne for pep(as I do with my gingersnaps!). These caramels do not have a strong gingerbread flavor to me. They are tasty, though!

  • tiffanyburns 18 Nov, 2008

    Use a really BIG pot when cooking. My largest was not big enough and I had to pour some out and cook separately. These were done in 20-25 minutes and while seemingly hard in the pan and when cutting, they are the perfect texture when eating. However, next time I will double the spices and perhaps add a touch of cayenne for pep(as I do with my gingersnaps!). These caramels do not have a strong gingerbread flavor to me. They are tasty, though!

  • tiffanyburns 18 Nov, 2008

    Use a really BIG POT when you make these - my largest was not big enough. Mine cooked in about 25 minutes and while they seem hard in the pan when cutting, they are perfect for chewing. Do not be deceived! However, the next time I make them I will double the spices and maybe add a touch of cayenne for zing (I do that with my gingersnaps). These don't have a strong gingerbread flavor to me - but still delicious!

  • Digigirl 7 Aug, 2008

    Mine worked as per the recipe, about 20-25 minutes to reach 248 degrees. I think it needs a couple more degrees, because it is a little too soft. Be sure to stir the spices in VERY well - I dumped in

  • fishnoises 11 Jan, 2008

    I have never made caramels and I am not a huge fan of caramels to begin with but these were DELICOUS!!!!!!!! It took way more than 20 mins for the candy to get to the right temp though. (More like 1 hr and 20 mins.) Cutting and wrapping was tedious. Made a great gift. I got lots fo raves!

  • HamiltonCook 3 Jan, 2008

    re: Gomango's comment on adjusting the recipe to make standard caramels: Martha's golden caramel recipe is identical to this except for omitting the spices (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves), a reduction to 1/2 t salt (I use even less salt), and NO MOLASSES. So you need to do more than just get rid of the spices. There is a lovely chocolate variant as well.

  • HamiltonCook 30 Dec, 2007

    You can "score" the caramels across the short length after they have cooled for a few hours - this will make it easier for the final cutting later. If they are brittle, you may have cooked them a bit too long. The Exploratorium has a great website showing the various stages: www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/candy/sugar-stages.html

  • Jane Bonacci_The Heritage Cook 19 Dec, 2007

    Think of the consistency of the final product when looking at temperature settings. The right temp is firm-ball. If you donn n n n n n t already own one, buy yourself a high quality candy thermometer. The best ones have a glass tube with mercury in the bottom. You can also calibrate your thermometer to see if it is accurate by putting it in boiling water. If the temp reads 212 degrees F then it is correct. If it doesn't, adjust your final temperature based on the difference. Hope this helps!

  • Jane Bonacci_The Heritage Cook 19 Dec, 2007

    Think of the consistency of the final product when looking at temperature settings. The right temp is firm-ball. If you donn n n n n n t already own one, buy yourself a high quality candy thermometer. The best ones have a glass tube with mercury in the bottom. You can also calibrate your thermometer to see if it is accurate by putting it in boiling water. If the temp reads 212 degrees F then it is correct. If it doesn't, adjust your final temperature based on the difference. Hope this helps!

  • Jane Bonacci_The Heritage Cook 19 Dec, 2007

    Think of the consistency of the final product when looking at temperature settings. The right temp is firm-ball. If you donn n n n n n t already own one, buy yourself a high quality candy thermometer. The best ones have a glass tube with mercury in the bottom. You can also calibrate your thermometer to see if it is accurate by putting it in boiling water. If the temp reads 212 degrees F then it is correct. If it doesn't, adjust your final temperature based on the difference. Hope this helps!

  • kristamozina 18 Dec, 2007

    One more thing....I looked up Deep Dark Chocolate Caramels, and on that recipe, it stays to cook until softball stage...not firm-ball or 248-250 degrees! I wonder what the correct temp really is?

  • kristamozina 18 Dec, 2007

    I just tried to cut mine and they break into pieces like ice. I don't think wrapping them will soften them. I cooked it to the right temp on my candy thermometer, but it was on the edge of the pan. I might try one more batch tonight. If it turns out the same way, I will have to give up. :~(

  • swsbakes 18 Dec, 2007

    Forget cellophane. Parchment is way easier and doesn't stick together when you're cutting squares in preparation for wrapping. Try white and brown for a nice contrast. I made the golden ones and these for colleagues and they have been well received today at work! Do not overcook these in particular. Put your candiy therm right in the middle while trying not to burn your fingers to get the true temp. Cut them even if brittle. They soften when smaller and when in the wrapper. Good luck!

  • kristamozina 18 Dec, 2007

    Mine are so hard, I'm afraid it won't cut. It took me over an hour to reach the temperature I needed. I have let it sit over night, but when I lift the caramel out of the pan, it is hard as a rock. Anyone know what I did wrong? I am worried I will have to throw them out!

  • dddlev 16 Dec, 2007

    Question/HELP! Does anybody have a suggestion for where to purchase cellophane that can be twisted closed? The standard cellophane we found here in Seattle is for gift baskets and it does not work as a candy wrapper.

    -Thanks!

  • dddlev 16 Dec, 2007

    Two preparation tips to prevent frustration:

    Tip 1. Don't count on boiling this for 20 minutes (that could only work with a wide pot on a 16,000 BTU range)--for us it took over 60 minutes.

    Tip 2. As it cools, the caramel first got brittle, making me afraid it would not be possible to cut. But, after sitting, it softened so that we were able to cut it more easily.

  • skm3 14 Dec, 2007

    Martha has a regular caramel recipe from a previous season that is fabulous - no need to adjust this one. Also, a pizza cutter works great for cutting the caramel into 1 1/4 in strips and then into 1in. pieces.

  • staceyg 14 Dec, 2007

    I had trouble getting the candy to the right temperature without having the pot boil over. Is there a trick to this? I ended up with great ice cream sauce but no candy.

  • gomango 14 Dec, 2007

    To make "regular" caramels should you omit: cinnamon, ginger, cloves

  • gomango 14 Dec, 2007

    To make "regular" caramels should you omit: cinnamon, ginger, cloves

  • moethorne 2 Dec, 2007

    Makes tons!