Basic-Batch Caramel

  • Yield: 1 1/2 cups


3cups ice
1cup sugar
1/4cup water
2tablespoons corn syrup
1/2cup heavy cream
1/4cup butter
1tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2teaspoon salt


  1. Put the ice in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Stir the mixture until it resembles wet beach sand. Use a moist paper towel to wipe out any sugar that clings to the inside of the pan. (This keeps the crystals from getting into your syrup, which will make it gritty rather than smooth.) Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil without stirring. Add the corn syrup and cook for about 8 minutes, or until it first browns around the edges and then turns entirely the color of honey. When the mixture reaches about 310F on a candy thermometer, carefully place the pan in the bowl of ice for a few seconds to stop the caramel from cooking.
  3. Remove the caramel from the ice but let it cool for another 2 minutes, then add the cream, butter, vanilla, and salt, and stir with a wooden spoon. (Be careful! The still-hot syrup sizzles!) If some of the caramel has hardened on the bottom of the pan, return the pan to the stove and melt the bits into the mixture over low heat. Let the sauce cool a little more, then refrigerate for about 1 hour before using in candy-bar production.
  4. Store in a covered bowl or an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1 week or in the freezer for 2 months.

Reprinted with permission from Susie Norris and Susan Heeger’s Hand-Crafted Candy Bars (Chronicle, 2013).