Chewy Sea Salt Caramels infused with ROSEMARY! Because salted caramels are great, but herb-infused caramels are better. Finish with sea salt to create the ultimate sea salt caramel.
General Candy making tips for homemade salted caramels
Use a candy thermometer to ensure accurate temperatures. Without a candy thermometer, making salted caramels (or any candy) at home will be more than challenging. Not sure if your thermometer is calibrated? Testing your thermometer by taking the temperature of boiling water—it should read 212°F (100ºC). Adjust the recipe temperature up or down based on your test.
Have everything prepped and ready to go. When making salted caramels, or any candy for that matter, most of the action happens within 30 seconds when making candy. It’s important to move fast and efficiently as there is really no wiggle room with times and temps. The temperature of sugar can rise rapidly; just a few extra seconds over the heat, or a delay on adding butter can drastically change the finished product.
Allow for enough cooling time. Whether you’re making salted caramels, truffles, marshmallows, toffee, barks or brittles, there will inevitably be some cooling time required. The cooling (or chilling) step is required and cannot be avoided or rushed.
Use a combination of sugars. Similar to the reason for using interfering agents, it’s important to use a combination of sugar types when making candy (sucrose, fructose, glucose). Why? More than one type of sugar means a variety of sugar molecule shapes. To avoid boring you, this essentially means that the molecule won’t fit together nicely, which is a good thing. When we use one type of sugar, the molecules essentially nestle together during cooling, creating gritty, crumbly crystals. Using a combination of sugars means the sugar molecules won’t crystalize as easily, resulting in a candy that’s silky and smooth.
When making homemade caramel, it’s important to avoid crystallization. Crystallization is the opposite of everything we love about soft, chewy caramels. When sugar crystalizes it creates a grainy texture in the finished product.
When adding the granulated sugar to the pan, before you even begin cooking, it’s important to avoid getting any granules on the sides of the pans. To avoid this, slowly pour the sugar in the center of the pan.
During the first stage of cooking, if you see any crystallization start to form on the sides of the pan, carefully brush some water on the sides of the pan with a pastry brush.
It’s all about temperature
First and foremost, you WILL need a candy thermometer or instant-read thermometer. Unless you can make caramels purely off of intuition (in that case you probably don’t need to be here), then you need a thermometer.
Temperature is absolutely key to achieving successful caramels. For candy making, I like to use a candy thermometer. They have a handy clip that allows you to clip the thermometer right to the side of the pan (nice for avoiding a steam-induced burn) and usually feature a guard to keep the probe of the thermometer from touching the bottom of the pan.
If your candy thermometer doesn’t have a guard, just be sure to not let the probe touch the bottom of the pan.
This recipe has two important temperatures to keep in mind.
As a quick reference, the sugar syrup will first be cooked to 320ºF (160ºC) to 325ºF (163ºC).
Then, secondly, the caramel mixture will be cooked to 240°F (115ºC) to 245ºF (118ºC).
The nitty gritty of this two-step process is important to achieving flavor and adequate texture. The first stage, when you cook the sugar syrup to 320ºF (160ºC), you’re cooking the sugar past hard-crack stage (think hard sugar candies like brittles and poured suckers) and into the caramel stage.
This means nearly all of the moisture from the mixture has been evaporated out and the sugar is now browning and becoming caramel. True caramel, kept in this original state, is used to make brittles, pralines, and nougatine.
The second step of this process is adding fat and moisture to the caramel mixture, and cooking it the caramel to a much lower temperature, 240°F (115ºC) , to create a soft and chewy caramel.
If you like softer caramels, cook the caramel in the second stage to 240°F (115ºC).
If you’re like me and prefer a chewier caramel, cook the caramel in the second stage to 245ºF (118ºC).
To stir, or not to stir
Candy making can seem finicky, but I’m here to tell you, if you follow the recipe (and don’t over think it) you may find that homemade caramel is actually quite simple. One of the biggest things to keep in mind, don’t stir unless the recipe tells you to stir!
It might not seem like a bit deal—but when it comes to caramel it is! In the first stage of cooking, after stirring the sugar in initially to moisten the granules, there’s really no need to stir. Let the mixture bubble away, uninterrupted, until the sides of the pan start to turn amber brown. Once browning starts to occur, even the slightest, you can give the pan a little swirl.
Once all of the cream mixture has been added, in the second stage of cooking, you can stir to your hearts desire.
How to clean the sticky pan
Cleaning hardened caramel out of a pan can be a big pain in the rear. But I’ve found if you fill the saucepan with some water and bring the water to a boil, the caramel melts away easily. Add the candy thermometer, rubber spatula and/or wooden spoon to the pot if they also have stuck on caramel.
Variations on this sea salt caramel recipe:
- Instead of infusing the cream with rosemary, add the seeds of one vanilla bean.
- Swap the rosemary sprig for a few peels of orange zest.
- Drizzle each caramel with dark chocolate.
You may also like…
- Honey, Cardamom & Orange Marshmallows
- Healthy Dark Chocolate Coconut Bark
- Mini Cardamom Pavlova with Cranberry Curd
- Vegan Dark Chocolate Orange Truffles
- Red Wine Dark Chocolate Truffles
- Easy Spices Meringue Cookies
- Brown Sugar Caramel Sauce from my Friend Susie at Mom’s Dinner!
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Don’t forget, if you make these salted caramels leave a comment and rating below!
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Chewy homemade caramels infused with rosemary and finished with crunchy sea salt. An explosion of flavor in every bite!
- 3 tablespoons water
- ¼ cup light corn syrup
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter (8 tablespoons)
- ½ cup heavy cream*
- 1 large rosemary sprig
- ¼ teaspoon coarse sea salt + more for sprinkling
Bring butter, cream. and rosemary to boil. Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt; let cool.
Combine water, corn syrup and sugar with a wooden spoon or heat-proof rubber spatula in a large saucepan. Stir until sugar is saturated with water.
Bring sugar solution to a boil over medium-high heat, and cook, without stirring, until sugar has dissolved and temperature reaches 300°F, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, gently swirling pan, until edges of mixture start to turn a light amber and temperature reaches 320ºF (160ºC) to 325ºF (163ºC), about 5 minutes.
Once 320ºF (160ºC) is reached, remove from heat. Remove and discard rosemary sprig from cream mixture; carefully pour a quarter of the cream mixture into sugar syrup and swirl to incorporate. (Be careful, mixture will bubble up.)
Add remaining cream and butter mixture and stir to incorporate. Return pan to medium-high heat and cook, stirring frequently, until caramel reaches 240°F (115ºC) for softer caramels or 245ºF (118ºC) for chewier caramels, 5–10 minutes.
Carefully pour caramel into prepared pan; allow caramel to cool for 20 minutes at room temperature, then sprinkle with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sea salt and let cool until completely solid and cold to touch, 1–2 hours.
Pull edges of parchment paper to release caramel from pan. Cut caramel into ¾-inch-wide strips and then crosswise into 1-inch pieces. Individually wrap pieces in waxed-paper squares, twisting ends of paper to close.
Caramels can be refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.
Be sure to use heavy cream or heavy whipping cream. Avoid using cream that’s simply labeled “whipping cream” as it might have a lower percentage of fat. For this recipe, your cream should have a minimum of 36% fat content.
Humidity can impact caramel making—I’ve found cool dry days result in the best caramels.
Keywords: sea salt caramels, salted caramels
This recipe was originally posted on March 2, 2015.