Caramels by Jacques Pepin

Total Time
Prep 0 mins
Cook 15 mins

My favorite caramel recipe so far. The sugar gets hot enough to develop its full potential complexity, and the texture is creamy, but without so much dairy taste that it overwhelms the sugary goodness. I also like that it makes a smaller amount than other recipes I've seen. Having too much of this stuff around is dangerous!


  1. Prepare a standard loaf pan either by buttering it or lining it with lightly oiled parchment paper.
  2. Place the butter, cut into pieces, and the cream in a glass bowl and microwave until butter is melted and mixture is hot, about 90 seconds. Set mixture aside, close enough to be reached quickly.
  3. Combine water, corn syrup, and sugar in a straight-sided pan. Stir just enough to moisten the sugar, but not so vigorously as to slosh any sugar onto the sides of the pan, where it is likely to crystalize.
  4. Heat over medium-high heat until mixture begins to boil, then put on a tight-fitting lid and continue to cook for one to two minutes. The steam will condense in the lidded pan and run down the sides, washing away any sugar crystals that have formed.
  5. Remove the lid and attach a candy thermometer. Cook to 320 degrees F or until the sugar begins to turn amber around the edges. This may take five to six minutes, but it can happen fast, so do not allow your attention to be diverted at this point or you will have a smoking black mess on your hands.
  6. As soon as the thermometer hits 320 F, or you see the edges turning amber, pour the butter and cream mixture slowly into the sugar mixture, stirring to combine. Temperature will drop to just above 200°F.
  7. Continue cooking until the mixture reaches your desired temperature: 240 degrees F for very soft caramels, 245 for soft-but-chewy, 250 for hard.
  8. When the desired temperature is reached, pour the mixture immediately into the prepared loaf pan. Allow to cool until they are just slightly warm to the touch, then turn out onto parchment or waxed paper and cut to desired size. They're very rich, so I like small pieces.
  9. Wrap in squares of waxed paper to store. The softer ones will need to be refrigerated, the medium and hard ones will not. These also freeze well if you want to store them longer-term.


Most Helpful

The is the easiest and most full proof recipe for caramels. I sometimes dip one end of the finished caramels into chocolate then sprinkle with sea salt. These make great gifts!

Jules127 May 08, 2010

1st batch burned badly as I followed the directions and tried cooking it to 320 degrees. The second batch I cooked until the sugar began to turn golden brown then added the cream & butter mixture and continued cooking according to the directions.

pamm61 December 26, 2009

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