1 2/3 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 1/2 ounces (1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons) honey
1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temp; more for the pan
1/2 teaspoon table salt
For the Honey-Nut version:
5 1/2 ounces (1 to 1 1/4 cups) whole salted mixed nuts (don't use a mixture
containing peanuts–they'll overwhelm the flavor of the other nuts), very lightly
toasted to refresh the flavors
For the Vanilla-Tangerine version:
Butter an 8x8-inch baking pan, line the bottom with
parchment, and butter the parchment well. Don't worry if the parchment pops up a
bit, the weight of the caramel will press it back down.
Finely grated zest of 2 tangerines (about 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon)
If making honey-nut caramels, scatter the nuts evenly over the bottom of the
In a small saucepan, heat the cream with the vanilla over medium heat until it
comes to a simmer. Reduce the heat to very low and keep the cream hot.
Heat the sugar with the honey in a 4-quart or larger saucepan over medium-high
heat, stirring occasionally with a long-handled wooden spoon, until the sugar is
mostly dissolved and it starts to boil, 4 to 5 minutes.
Stop stirring and brush down the sides of the pot with a clean pastry brush
dipped in water to dissolve any clinging sugar crystals (see the second photo
from the left, below).
Clip a candy thermometer to the pot and let the mixture boil, without disturbing
the bubbling sugar, until it reaches 305°F, 2 to 5 minutes. Rinse any clinging
sugar off your spoon and dry it with a towel.
Add the 3 tablespoons butter and the salt. Slowly stir in the warm cream. The
mixture will boil furiously and bubble up considerably as soon as you begin
adding things: Just keep slowly and steadily pouring in the cream and stirring.
By the time all the cream is added, the temperature of the mixture will have
started to drop. Continue stirring, watching the thermometer closely, until the
temperature is back up to 250°F. Take the pan off the heat.
If making vanilla tangerine caramels, stir in the tangerine zest now.
Immediately pour the hot caramel into the prepared pan. Do not scrape the pot.
What sticks to the pot should stay in the pot.
If making honey-nut caramels, be sure to keep the pot moving back and forth as
you pour so that the nuts don’t float away and congregate around the edge of the
Set the pan on a rack in a cool part of your kitchen. Don’t disturb the pan
until the caramel is fully cool and set, at least 5 hours, but preferably
Run a table knife around the edges of the pan and turn the caramel out onto an
oiled cutting board. Peel off the parchment. With a chef's knife, cut the
caramel into 100 squares (about 3/4 inch each) and wrap them snugly in
cellophane or other candy wrappers. One cut, the caramels will slowly lose their
shape, so it's important to wrap them right away.
The wrapped caramels will keep for about four weeks if stored in an airtight
container at room temperature.
By Jennifer Davis, FC #75
Yields about a hundred 3/4-inch square caramels.