Sea Salt Vanilla Bean Caramels
Required Special Equipment and Notes
- A candy thermometer is required, these clip onto the sides of a pot, and rest in the liquid that is cooking.
- The caramel has to sit overnight (at least 12 hours), so don't expect to enjoy them right after cooking
- Cleanup tip: put all dirty tools into the large pot and fill with water and allow to soak overnight.
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 2 cups light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar (packed)
- 2 whole vanilla beans (substitution: 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
- 1 stick salted butter
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt
- 1-2 teaspoons finishing salt or fancy salt (substitute with coarse sea salt or kosher salt)
- line a 9" x 9" (or similar) pan with aluminum foil, and lightly spray the aluminum foil with a flavorless non-stick spray, or wipe thoroughly with some melted butter
- cut the cold stick of butter into small cubes, and leave to soften
- cut the two vanilla bean pods lengthwise, unfold, and using a butter knife scrape out vanilla bean pulp from the bean shell and set aside. Discard strips of the shell.
- Combine heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla bean pulp* in a small saucepan, and warm on the lowest heat setting. Stir frequently (you don't want the bottom to get burned). The mixture should get warm but should not boil. Remove from heat after it's about the heat of a hot bath.
(* note, if using vanilla extract, add it at step 5 instead of with the milk)
In a large saucepan with a candy thermometer, combine corn syrup, water, and sugar. Heat on medium and stir often. Sugar will dissolve. Continue heating and stirring until temperature reaches 250 F.
Once you reach 250, carefully add butter chunks and stir, then carefully add heavy cream mixture while stirring. The temperature will drop by about 30 degrees.
Continue to cook at medium heat, stirring very frequently as the temperature continues to climb. The mixture will bubble and darken slowly. As soon as the thermometer reaches 245 F remove from heat.
Stir in 1 teaspoon of course salt. (* if using vanilla extract, stir it in here as well)
Pour the mixture into the lined pan
After about 1 minute, as soon as bubbles appear to have settled out, liberally sprinkle the 1-2 teaspoons of finishing/fancy salt across the entire surface of the caramel.
Allow to sit undisturbed on the counter overnight, at least 12 hours.
The next day, lift it out of the pan by using the aluminum foil and peel off foil. Place on cutting board, and using a long, sharp knife, cut into 1/2 inch cubes. If you want to individually wrap each piece, twist each piece into a 4" x 3" piece of parchment paper.