Baker’s Solstice Countdown: December 14: Mom’s Caramels

I had never made my mom’s caramels before. I didn’t even have the recipe. They were just one of those things only my mom ever made. When I moved to the East Coast, I didn’t take the recipe with me because it makes a remarkable number of caramels, more than The Husband and I could ever eat, and I had no one to give them to.

For this project, I asked my mother to send me the recipe, and asked her if she had ever halved the recipe. She said no. She asked me to let her know if I halved it, and how it turned out. I did make half a recipe, and well, as you can see they turned out all right. I took them off the heat a degree or two too soon I think, and cutting the vanilla in half may have made their color and flavor a little light. I have adjusted the recipe for you to take these things into account. It still makes a somewhat remarkable number of caramels, but we will probably make our way through them, because they are delicious.

You will need a candy thermometer for this recipe.

Mom’s Caramels


  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 stick (1/4 pound) butter, cut into 4 equal pieces
  • 1 cup heavy cream, divided
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract


  1. Prepare a 7-inch by 11-inch baking dish (or an 8-inch by 8-inch dish) by lining it with foil, leaving strips hanging over the sides to use as handles. Butter the foil inside the dish.
  2. Combine the sugar, corn syrup, butter, and 1/2 cup heavy cream in a large saucepan (mixture should only come halfway up the inside of the pan, to leave room for boiling and stirring). Attach a candy thermometer to the pan so you can read it.
  3. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally to help dissolve the sugar, until the mixture comes to a boil. Do not stir after it comes to a boil.
  4. At a full boil, slowly add the other 1/2 cup heavy cream, being careful not to stop the boiling. Keep boiling until the temperature reaches the “Firm Ball” mark on the candy thermometer. (250 deg. F)
  5. Remove from the heat, and stir in the vanilla extract. Pour into the prepared pan all at once. The mixture should be hot and liquid enough to level itself out. Anything left to scrape out of the pan should be scraped into a separate small dish. Allow to cool on a wire rack completely until cold and set. This will take a while, possibly overnight.
  6. Using the foil handles, remove the slab of caramel from the baking dish, and carefully peel the foil away from the caramel (if you’ve allowed it to cool and set completely, this should not be difficult). Flip the caramel slab upside down on a cutting board to finish removing the foil. Using a sharp knife, cut into desired pieces. Cut pieces of wax paper large enough to wrap your pieces, and wrap, twisting the ends to seal.

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