Dec 22

Creamy Caramels (Caramels Part 1)

in Candy, Dessert, Fuji Favorites, Recipes by Type

I’m really lucky to have married Mr. Fuji (hopefully he doesn’t read this, or I’ll never hear the end of this one).  One of the benefits of having married him, is having his mom as my mother-in-law.  Yep, you read that right.  Not only is she an amazing woman and not at all the nightmare of a mother-in-law that so many women claim to have, but she is an amazing mother.  I’m grateful for this, because she raised an amazing son, and now my own children are spoiled to get to be with her (though we wish she lived closer!).

Grandma and Fujilings copy

She was the type of mother who believed in having hot meals on the table for her family, and it helped that she’s a wonderful cook.  One of the recipes she shared with me when Mr. Fuji and I were newlyweds, was her recipe for caramels.  These are the best homemade caramels I’ve ever had, and they are easy to make!  You can make them with or without nuts—I prefer them without.  Unfortunately, these caramels have highly addictive qualities, and thus I must urge you to exercise extreme caution when using this recipe.

creamy caramels

The only hard part about making these, is after you have brought your mixture to a boil and have reduced the heat and are slowly bringing the temperature up to the point where the mixture reaches the firm ball stage—it feels like it’s taking FOREVER!  But the mixture does slowly change color and the number on the candy thermometer will finally start to climb again, and then before you know it, it’s done and you add in some vanilla extract and nuts if you want them.

cooking the caramel

Then you pour the caramel into a greased 13×9-inch pan and set it aside to cool.  I guess this part is hard too if you’re like me, because I’m kind of impatient and I have the hardest time refraining from digging in with a spoon at this point.  The only thing preventing me from doing so is the fact that the caramel is way too hot and I’d burn my tongue, and that’s really not fun.  When the caramel has finally set, you lift it out of the pan (I use a butter knife to peel up an edge and then pull the whole thing out with my fingers), cut it into strips, and then cut the strips into little squares.  Then, all that’s left to do is wrap each square in some wax paper or just pop them straight into your mouth!

cutting the caramels

This time when I made these caramels, I realized after I’d already measured out all of the other ingredients and put them into my pot, that I didn’t have enough light corn syrup.  So, I used half light corn syrup and half dark corn syrup.  This was a fabulous accident, because the dark corn syrup added even more flavor to the caramels.  These caramels are so creamy and wonderful that you will have a difficult time stopping yourself from reaching for another one.  They make a wonderful treat to give to a friend or to set out at a holiday party.

wrapped caramels

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Creamy Caramels

Makes one 13×9-inch pan of caramel (actual number of caramels varies depending on how big you make the pieces when cutting up the caramel)

2 cups granulated sugar
8 ounces butter
1 3/4 cups light corn syrup
14 1/2 ounces evaporated milk
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 cup nuts, chopped (optional)

1. Butter a 9×13-inch pan and set aside.

2. Place the granulated sugar, butter, light corn syrup, and evaporated milk in a heavy saucepan (minimum size of 3 quarts)  and cook over high heat while stirring until the mixture reaches 210 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking and stirring constantly until the mixture reaches 245 degrees Fahrenheit (firm ball stage).

4. Remove the pan from the heat and add the vanilla and nuts and stir quickly.  Pour the caramel into the buttered 9×13-inch pan and set aside to cool.

5. When the caramel has cooled completely, cut into squares and wrap.

Coming Next: Caramels Part 2: Taking caramels to the next level.

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Memoria December 22, 2009 at 11:31 pm

Beautiful caramels. I'll be bookmarking this recipe.


BNDQ8 December 23, 2009 at 2:38 am

with a busy schedule its very diffcult to prepare sweets for christmas and i was just searching some easy sweet recipes last min…2 days before christmas :) and found your recipe…
its really sounds nice…im gona try it out…thanxs for sharing it …


Mary Jo Koranda December 23, 2009 at 11:31 am

I feel like I have a black thumb when it comes to candy making, even with a candy thermometer, nothing turns out. But I am going to try and give this recipe a shot. Thanks.


Amber December 23, 2009 at 6:38 pm

Oh, I guess I need to brave the snow and run to the store to grab a candy thermometer, I must make these… tonight! thanks for sharing!
Your littlest one looks just like your husband in this photo, she's adorable! 


Fuji Mama (Rachael) December 29, 2009 at 11:28 am

Thanks Amber! :)


Sharon S December 23, 2009 at 8:07 pm

Tried these today and I must say YUM! I was glad to have your pictures as it really did seem to take forever for the thermometer to inch its way up to the right temp, and I wanted to be sure I was on the right track, but they are worth the time. I'll be trying some of them dipped and topped (with Maldon since that's what I have!) tomorrow. 
I made them for a Christmas dinner we're invited to… I hope they make it! Thanks again!


Fuji Mama (Rachael) December 29, 2009 at 11:28 am

Sharon— I’m so glad the pictures helped. That was my hope!


Tien December 25, 2009 at 6:46 am

Thanks for sharing this recipe.  I have been wanting to make caramels forever.  I am fortunate to have a wonderful mother-in-law too. Happy hollidays. Tien :)


Dina December 25, 2009 at 7:07 pm

been wanting to make these.  thanks for posting the pics of the color as it heats.  very helpful!


Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction December 26, 2009 at 7:40 pm

Yum! I'm sorry I didn't get around to reading this post *before* I made all of my homemade gifts for Christmas. Perhaps I'll just have to make some for myself. :) Oh darn!


Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets December 27, 2009 at 10:27 pm

Thanks for the lesson! I haven't braved candy-making yet, but hope to one day and this will definitely be a big help then. Happy new year!


Michelle {Brown Eyed Baker} March 29, 2010 at 10:12 am

These look delicious! I’ve always wanted to try homemade caramels, will definitely give this a shot. And congratulations on having a fabulous mother-in-law! :)


Tanya July 1, 2010 at 5:43 am

Hi, what do you think is the shelf life of these caramels? Do you store them at room temperature? I live in a hot and humid climate FYI… Thanks!


Caroline December 2, 2010 at 12:24 pm

I am definitely going to make these for Christmas this year! And I second the questions of the poster above me; how long do these caramels last and would you store them in the fridge or at room temperature? Thanks so much!


Kathi December 24, 2010 at 9:55 pm

Your recipe calls for 1-1/2 Tablespoons of vanilla. Is that correct or did you mean 1-1/2 teaspoons? I just made the recipe and to err on the side of caution, I used 1-1/2 teaspoons. The added vanilla flavoring might be extra yummy though. p.s. The caramels are setting right now, but the cold-water-test samples were to die for!
Merry Christmas and Thanks for sharing your wonderful recipe!


Fuji Mama (Rachael) December 24, 2010 at 10:14 pm

@Kathi, The vanilla measurement is correct! 1 1/2 tablespoons. I know it sounds like a lot, but it’s wonderful!

Merry Christmas to you!


Dianna February 2, 2011 at 2:49 am

These are soft caramels, aren’t they? I am a little confused since you cook them to the hard ball stage. They look yummy!!!!!


Lynette August 15, 2011 at 2:38 am

Thank you sooo much for sharing your wonderful recipe!! I made them last night. Looking at the recipe now I forgot the vanilla extract!! lol Oh well they turned out totally fabulous even with out the Vanilla. Next time I promise to remember the vanilla.

Just a little side note, I live in Japan and the weather is awful humid right now so I went a couple degrees higher just to make up for the humidity. I also did the ice water test through out the process to make sure I was on track.

Thanks again!!


Fuji Mama (Rachael) August 16, 2011 at 2:48 pm

@Lynette, I’m so glad you enjoyed them Lynette! Yes, when we lived in Japan (and also in Memphis) I always had to take the candy to a higher temperature—thank goodness for the ice water test!


Ana October 5, 2011 at 11:04 am

I’m so glad I found your recipe. I’m wanting to make caramels for so long and only today I found the corn syrup :)
I only have one doubt. It’s about the evaporated milk. Would that be the same as the condensed milk (canned and very sweet)?
Thank you!


Fuji Mama (Rachael) October 5, 2011 at 11:09 am

@Ana, No, evaporated milk is unsweetened! See this article:

Hope this helps!


Ana October 17, 2011 at 6:40 am

I made these this weekend and they are perfect.
I think my thermometer had some problem, because it didn’t reach the 245º and the caramel started to stick to the pan and I thought it was ruined, They came out so gooood and with the perfect consistency.
And I believe I probably used too many butter. Not quite sure if I made the right conversion from onces to Kg.
Thank you so much!
[Sorry about my poor english]


Suchitra March 17, 2013 at 7:58 pm

Yay!!I am planning on making these yummy squares,this week.The look absolutely divine…Caramels have been a personal favorite and the recipe seems so simple.Thank you :)


bus July 2, 2013 at 10:03 pm

The wine carrier defeats both of these so-called experts
of all time actually know what they’re talking about. Of storing one hundred and fifty bottles of standard Bordeaux-size bottles. If you are one of my favorites. We’ve got a ready to hand
scheme which is all about Riesling.


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