Caramels should be individually wrapped in cellophane or waxed paper the moment they are cut or they will absorb moisture from the air and begin to ooze.

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Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Spray an 11 3/4-by-16 1/2-inch baking pan (this is a half-sheet pan) with vegetable-oil spray. Set aside in a spot where it will not be moved. In a 2-quart saucepan, combine cream and sweetened condensed milk; set aside.

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  • In a heavy 6- to 8-quart saucepan, combine corn syrup, 1 cup water, sugar, and salt. Clip on candy thermometer. Over high heat, cook until sugar is dissolved, stirring with a wooden spoon, 8 to 12 minutes. Brush down sides of pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to remove any sugar crystals.

  • Stop stirring, reduce heat to medium, and bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until temperature reaches 250 degrees (hard-ball stage), 45 to 60 minutes. Meanwhile, cook cream mixture over low heat until it is just warm. Do not boil. When sugar reaches 250 degrees. slowly stir in butter and warmed cream mixture, keeping mixture boiling at all times. Stirring constantly, cook over medium heat until thermometer reaches 244 degrees (firm-ball stage), 55 to 75 minutes. Stir in vanilla. Immediately pour into prepared pan without scraping pot. Let stand uncovered at room temperature for 24 hours without moving.

  • To cut, spray a large cutting board generously with vegetable-oil spray. Unmold caramel from pan onto sprayed surface. Cut into 1-by-1 1/4-inch pieces, or other shapes. Wrap each in cellophane or waxed paper.

Reviews (48)

141 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 44
  • 4 star values: 51
  • 3 star values: 29
  • 2 star values: 10
  • 1 star values: 7
Rating: 5 stars
11/27/2018
Have made this exact recipe many times now and it is SPECTACULAR! I make it two or three times every Christmas. Over the years, I have become known for my caramels (hell, they are really Martha's, but she's not here to take credit for it!) and people request them, rave about them, fight over them, and generally go gaga over them. Can also add chocolate at the end for a "homemade Tootsie Roll" candy (only way better, of course). I wrap them in precut cello wraps from CaramelWrappers.com, to save many steps. Then, put a handful in a festive holiday cello bag and tie it off with a gold curling ribbon. A lovely gift!
Rating: Unrated
11/09/2016
I've made these every year for over 10 years. I have doubled the batches, you just need one big pot for it, and a husband with strong arms. Add just a little more time, maybe 5 minutes to each step, but for me, well worth it. But note, IT IS heavy! I just make so much of this that I really need to double up. This is THE BEST caramels, they give you just the right amount of pull when you bite in to them, and the flavor is out of this world. I won't make any others its so good.
Rating: Unrated
12/20/2011
yeswithaj, I think doubling this recipe would be unsafe for most home cooks. You would have to lift and pour over 10 pounds of 244-degree caramel; it would be easy to drop it and burn yourself badly. (And do you have a pot that would hold 28 cups with headspace for boiling?)
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Rating: Unrated
12/18/2011
@yeswithaj: I've made it every year since '95, and the one year I tried doubling it was *not* a success. Since then I just make 2 separate batches, which is a pain, but worth it to have it turn out perfect.
Rating: Unrated
12/13/2011
Has anyone ever tried doubling this recipe? I make them every Christmas, but have never been brave enough to double without knowing for sure that it will work. I wish the great Martha herself would read this, she would surely know!
Rating: Unrated
12/27/2010
wonderful recipe-very rich and soft too! I would recommend first timers watch very carefully and slow and low is the key. do not over stir while cooking as burnt pieces will fleck the caramel. Do not overspray the pan with oil as they will be somewhat greasy. Well worth the 24 hour wait and 2 hours cooking time for the right temperature. everyone loved them! I simply wrapped in wax paper and cut ends with pinking shears! festive when placed in a holiday bowl.
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Rating: Unrated
12/16/2010
jmhnath, What if you cut up foiled wrapping paper in 1 in strips and wrapped each caramel over the waxed paper. Of course, use several colors to make it festive.
Rating: Unrated
12/16/2010
jmhnath, What if you cut up foiled wrapping paper in 1 in strips and wrapped each caramel over the waxed paper. Of course, use several colors to make it festive.
Rating: Unrated
12/15/2010
Actually, sixsons, I think you are misreading the recipie as it clearly states "Stirring constantly, cook over medium heat until thermometer reaches 244 degrees (firm-ball stage), 55 to 75 minutes."
Rating: Unrated
12/14/2010
Hi, I think many or most of you are misreading this recipe. It CLEARLY says to stir with a wooden spoon for 8-12 minutes just until the sugar is dissolved, then reduce the heat to medium and cook WITHOUT STIRRING for 45-60 minutes!!
Rating: Unrated
12/14/2010
YUMMMM! You do have to stir a lot but I wouldn't say you have to stir constantly. I stirred my mixture every couple minutes (which is still labor intensive but not quite as bad as literally standing over the pot w/ a wooden spoon for an hour) after adding the butter and cream mixture and it turned out great. Anybody have other ideas for how to wrap the caramel pieces? Plain white wax paper doesn't seem very festive.
Rating: Unrated
12/10/2010
I have made this recipe about a dozen times, all with great success. You HAVE to stir, it won't go over well if you don't. I make a lot of candy, and this is a recipe that requires stirring. I'm not sure why they lead you to believe otherwise. You can also easily half the batch, it's more than enough!
Rating: Unrated
02/23/2010
I'm sure you could cut the recipe in half. I made a batch for Christmas and it outlasted all the handmade gifts I needed and plenty of snacking by my household! You really do need to stir the entire time, yes. Grab a book or put the laptop on the counter and watch something while you stir. Don't risk it burning like I've done to mine! And these are totally worth the effort. They'd cost you $20 a dozen from a gormet candy shop! Yum.
Rating: Unrated
12/09/2009
Has anyone made these with the recipe cut in half? They sound great, but I don't need that many.
Rating: Unrated
01/10/2009
about the stirring, you then have to stir for 55 to 75 minutes, so there is a lot of standing and stirring involved
Rating: Unrated
11/28/2008
These are sooo delicious! I didn't have any problems at all just by following the recipe exactly. They take a little bit of time and patience and need to be babysitted but you will be rewarded for all your hardwork with sticky gooey delicious caramels!
Rating: Unrated
11/27/2008
i am afraid some of the previous people have misread the directions. it clearly states to cook WITHOUT STIRRING for 55-60 minutes. You will not have to stand there stirring constantly for and hour.
Rating: Unrated
11/19/2008
We make these caramels every year. It's a family project and last year we wrapped and gave away over 100 pounds. We'll add toasted pecans or almonds, rum flavoring, or no flavoring at all. They're all wonderful! Yes, it takes a long time to make them, but your friends and family will be forever grateful.
Rating: Unrated
11/12/2008
I agree that these caramels are tasty - indeed very good, great flavor. They are more labor intense than other recipes I have that are every bit as good. (We will see what the work crowd says) This is a pricey recipe so I will be cutting them smaller than my customary caramel candy recipe. I would like to freeze my next batch for about a month. I am debating on freezing the sheet whole and cutting and wrapping later, I am afraid the wax paper will get soggy in the freezer - your thoughts?
Rating: Unrated
11/01/2008
Thanks terrie-bear, I like how that sounds. Seems like a very good recipe, not sure if honey is the best flavor for a caramel. At least it sounds better than 4 cups of corn syrup,
Rating: Unrated
11/01/2008
For sweetened condensed milk:1 cup nonfat dry milk powder, 2/3 cup granulated sugar, 1/3 cup boiling water, 3 tablespoons melted butter. Combine in an electric blender and blend until smooth. Makes amount equal to one can. Butter must be melted and water boiling. I have tried this and it worked fine. You can use a food processor, but it comes out a little thinner, but it still worked in the recipe I used. In the blender it is harder to get the whirlpool of ingredients going, but it comes out thicker.
Rating: Unrated
10/31/2008
Anyone using a candy thermometer for the first time, be sure to calibrate it first. Instructions should be on the package. It is important. The thermometer can be off by a few degrees and this can make a difference in the final product.
Rating: Unrated
10/31/2008
I have made Homemade Caramels with great success.Time consuming,I don't remember stirring it constantly at all.I am not that kind of a cook.Turn the flame down a bit and watch it.Stir often and keep checking it.The use of a thermometer is essential. Homemade caramels are softer than the commercial variety.I prefer Homemade to Store Bought.Dont overcook them or they will be hard. JOSIEN: I am sure you can make your own Sweet Condensed Milk by cooking Evaporated milk,Sugar,until thickened.
Rating: Unrated
10/30/2008
Bedankt Miralda, Het is me al een stuk duidelijker. Zag dat je net lid ben geworden. Het is echt een super site. Ik heb er al zoveel leuke dingen vanaf gehaald. Veel plezier met het bewaren en gebruiken van alles. groetjes Josien
Rating: Unrated
10/29/2008
Ladiies, your comments really tell me to go to a good candy store and buy them. This recipe is really labor intensive and expensive to boot. My time is too valuable for such a recipe and the cost is really a bit much.
Rating: Unrated
10/29/2008
These are the very best caramels you'll ever have. Folks beg me to make the a whole batch just for them. Let me forewarn you -- they are extremely time intensive!!!! Waiting until the degree is eached, constanly stirring the whole time, when cooled then cut them them into bite size pieces
Rating: Unrated
10/29/2008
Barefoort Contessa last Saturday made caramels and didn't seem to need to stir much at all...maybe work?
Rating: Unrated
10/29/2008
Barefoort Contessa last Saturday made caramels and didn't seem to need to stir much at all...maybe work?
Rating: Unrated
10/29/2008
I can't imagine being able to stand for 55 to 75 minutes and stir this constantly, but I would love to make these.
Rating: Unrated
10/29/2008
Mmau -- I don't know how this tastes-- Honey Caramels, Uses 2 cups honey AND sugar, 1/2 t. salt, 1 C. evaporated milk, and 1/2 C. butter. Cook honey, sugar and salt rapidly to 250 degrees stirring occasionally. Add milk and butter. Cook rapidly to 250 degrees again, being careful not to scorch. This may take 10 to 15 minutes. Pour into buttered 9X13 pan. Cool, and cut into 100 pieces. Wrap in waxed paper.
Rating: Unrated
10/29/2008
Does anyone know any caramel (or other candy) recipes that do NOT use corn syrup? There must be a way to make caramels w/out corn syrup.
Rating: Unrated
10/29/2008
In step 3, do you really have to stir constantly for 55 to 75 minutes, until the thermometer reaches 244 degrees?
Rating: Unrated
10/29/2008
In step 3, do you really have to stir constantly for 55 to 75 minutes, until the thermometer reaches 244 degrees?
Rating: Unrated
10/29/2008
Has anyone tried halving the recipe? That's about $16 worth of ingredients and I'd hate to blow it on a first try. Sounds divine though, hard to go wrong with any recipe based on cream and sugar!
Rating: Unrated
10/29/2008
Has anyone tried halving the recipe? That's about $16 worth of ingredients and I'd hate to blow it on a first try. Sounds divine though, hard to go wrong with any recipe based on cream and sugar!
Rating: Unrated
10/29/2008
Has anyone tried halving the recipe? That's about $16 worth of ingredients and I'd hate to blow it on a first try. Sounds divine though, hard to go wrong with any recipe based on cream and sugar!
Rating: Unrated
10/29/2008
I make these every Christmas. Watch the temperature! If you heat them past the soft ball stage, they will be hard as a rock and you will need to crack them out of the pan. Also, if you place the warm caramel pan in a really cool place like a garage or basement, you should be able to cut the caramels in a couple of hours.
Rating: Unrated
10/29/2008
I make these every Christmas. Watch the temperature! If you heat them past the soft ball stage, they will be hard as a rock and you will need to crack them out of the pan. Also, if you place the warm caramel pan in a really cool place like a garage or basement, you should be able to cut the caramels in a couple of hours.
Rating: Unrated
10/29/2008
I make these every Christmas. Watch the temperature! If you heat them past the soft ball stage, they will be hard as a rock and you will need to crack them out of the pan. Also, if you place the warm caramel pan in a really cool place like a garage or basement, you should be able to cut the caramels in a couple of hours.
Rating: Unrated
10/29/2008
I make these every Christmas. Watch the temperature! If you heat them past the soft ball stage, they will be hard as a rock and you will need to crack them out of the pan. Also, if you place the warm caramel pan in a really cool place like a garage or basement, you should be able to cut the caramels in a couple of hours.
Rating: Unrated
10/29/2008
I make these every Christmas. Watch the temperature! If you heat them past the soft ball stage, they will be hard as a rock and you will need to crack them out of the pan. Also, if you place the warm caramel pan in a really cool place like a garage or basement, you should be able to cut the caramels in a couple of hours.
Rating: Unrated
10/29/2008
Hai Josien, Corn syrup is maisstroop en sweetened condensed milk is gecondenseerde melk. Het eerste is te koop bij delicatessenwinkels waar ze ook engelse en amerikaanse produkten verkopen en soms hebben ze het ook bij de toko en ik heb het ook wel een bij een goedgesorteerde jumbo gezien. Het tweede is bijna bij alle goed gesorteerde supermarkten te koop en zit in een blikje van friese vlag, het is gezoete, ingedikte melk. Ik hoop dat je hier wat aan hebt. Groetjes, Miralda
Rating: Unrated
10/29/2008
Corn syrup is found with the pancake syrups at the grocery store. Heavy cream we find in the dairy section along with milk and refridgerated coffee creamers..... But that is here in America. Maybe this wll help you locate it there.
Rating: Unrated
10/29/2008
Can any one tell me what corn syrup, and sweetened condensed milk are and if I can buy it in Holland or can I make it myself? Thanks for helping
Rating: Unrated
10/29/2008
nothing tastes better than homemade caramel. When I make this I will cook it on medium high, instead of high, it makes life easier.
Rating: Unrated
10/29/2008
I make homemade caramels every Christmas and in my opinion they are well worth the effort. It's what makes the holidays special. It's the love that you add that makes them so tasty!
Rating: Unrated
10/29/2008
if you have to ask that question then you have the answer - unless you have an empty two hours and a very strong arm
Rating: Unrated
10/29/2008
I bet these are really good. But they take a long time to make. Does anyone know if they are worth the time, or should I just go buy some caramels?