Homemade Caramel Calamity


For Valentine’s Day I made the mistake of offering to make truffles and homemade caramel and took orders for these delicious delights. Of course, everything sounded fun, until I noticed I had an essay due the Friday before and an exam the Monday after Valentine’s weekend. The result was spending, an entire day in the kitchen trying to make truffles and caramel.

Let’s start with the caramel(I will talk about the truffles on Saturday), since it was much less successful. To sum up my suck-cess: I had to make them twice, broke a spatula and almost lost a glass baking dish.

I don’t know how well you can see, but my spatula is broken in half. And the caramel in that pan is rock solid and set in the pan. I had to soak the pan in hot water for days before I got my pan back.

Regardless of the insanity induced by making caramel, the process is quite fun. I got the recipe out of my Betty Crocker cookbook. (A wedding gift that I just rediscovered, we’ve been married 3 1/2 years.) It is amazing to see the few ingredients needed turn into what should be yummy caramel if I could figure out what I am doing wrong.

You just add all the ingredients (sugar, butter, whipping cream and corn syrup)  into a 3 qt. pot. The size is very important, for some reason.

And stir.

And stir.

And stir.

Eventually, it will start to look like this, which I think it crazy and awesome. Then you stir some more.

And keep stirring.

And stir.

Finally, you can pour it into a greased baking dish and let the caramel goo cool for two hours. Or over night. But then when you wake up in the morning, your caramel is so hard that you can do nothing to remove the caramel rock from your dish.

And then Saturday morning, when you wanted to be sleeping in, you get up and start over.

You add the same ingredients to the 3 qt. pot, only this time you add some chocolate (because that is what I was supposed to make in the first place). And you let your caramel mixture come to a boil while you stir.

And stir…and you know the drill.

Keep stirring.  Important: The trick is to pour the caramel into the pan as soon as it reaches the right temperature. The best way to do this, a candy thermometer. But who has one of those? I don’t. So the next best thing, according to Betty Crocker, is the Cold-Water Test. With the caramel, you want it pour it into a dish at 245° F.  If you don’t have a candy thermometer, drop some of your caramel into a glass of cold water. If it makes a firm ball that will hold its shape until pressed, you have apparently reached the right temperature. I don’t know though. I still think I messed something up.
Then you get to pour your bubbling goo of caramel into a 8x8in or 9x9in square baking dish. Dish size is important as well. Then let it cool for two hours and some how manage to get you caramel out of the pan.

I actually suggest pulling your caramel out sooner, as it starts to harden really quickly. Then cut your caramel into pieces.

Ms. Crocker says to use scissors because it will be easier than cutting it with a kitchen knife.

Um, I say lay your soon to be caramel-crete on a cutting board, don some protective goggles and just hit the caramel with a butcher knife and it will break into  pieces. Neither cutting with knife nor scissor worked for me.  Oh and be prepared to walk out of your kitchen covered in caramel dust and shrapnel, which could be good news for a caramel loving husband or boyfriend. (Warning, this may not be the safest advice and you should proceed cautiously while breaking your caramel.)

The result:A bunch of chunks of hard candy caramel.

I definitely imagined soft caramels, so I don’t know if I did something wrong or if I just didn’t know what I was getting into. The caramel is pretty good though. If you drool all over it for a minute it gets kind of chewy.

Here is the full recipe, proceed without rigid expectations.


  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of butter or margarine
  • 2 cups of whipping (heavy) cream
  • 3/4 cup of light corn syrup


  1. Grease the bottom and the sides of your square baking dish (8×8 or 9×9 will work) with butter.
  2. In a 3 quart saucepan, heat all the ingredients to boiling over a medium heat. Stir constantly.
  3. Boil for 35 minutes, stirring frequently, until the candy reaches 245°F on a candy thermometer. (See above for cold-water test)
  4. Once the candy reaches 245ºF, immediately pour into the baking dish.
  5. Cool completely, a little less than 2 hours.
  6. Some how manage to break apart.
  7. Store candy in airtight container.
  8. Enjoy?

If you try this recipe, good luck. Then comment and let me know if you figure out the secret.

Come back for the truffle recipe on Saturday.

-Sarah, One Curly Mama


2 responses »

  1. These carmels are very good! We were glad we ordered them! Just don’t try to chew them until after they have softened in your mouth a bit. 🙂

  2. LOL–I’ve had a few caramel problems myself, but not to this degree! I would have been cussin for sure. 🙂 I have a recipe for soft caramels on my site that have always turned out soft for me and you don’t have to have a thermometer, although I recommend it for all candy-making. My only problem has been them sticking to the dish (didn’t use enough butter) and not being able to stop eating them once I start cutting. 🙂 http://reciperhapsody.wordpress.com/2009/12/04/soft-caramels/

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