Salted caramels are one of the most addictive snacks out there. Adding salt to sweet, buttery caramels creates just the right balance between sweet and salty and makes your mouth water (in a good way!) while eating them. I often buy these treats when I see them at stores, but it is not too difficult to make sea salt-topped caramels at home – and having a good from-scratch recipe means that you can have them any time you want! These Homemade Sea Salt Caramels are buttery caramels that are topped with a generous sprinkling of coarse sea salt. These are soft and chewy, with a nice balance of sweetness and salt. You will want a candy thermometer to ensure that you get good results, but this is a relatively easy homemade candy recipe that is definitely worth trying.
There is a small amount of salt in the caramels to flavor them, but I saved the sea salt in these caramels for the topping. Although some sea salt caramels will use sea salt in the caramel itself, I found that I didn’t notice a real flavor difference when I used the sea salt in the recipe. There is, however, a huge difference between putting table salt and coarse or flaky sea salt on top of these and it is worth getting the good stuff! Any coarse sea salt that you like will work well. I personally recommend flaky Maldon Sea Salt, which has a great flavor, excellent texture and a beautiful look.
Once the caramel is prepared, you can pour it into a 9×9 glass or pyrex baking dish. The 9×9 makes caramels of a nice thickness, but if you want to make your caramels smaller (or just make a lot more of them), you can also use a 9×13 pan and get thinner caramels. Do not forget to grease the pan with butter (or vegetable oil, though I recommend butter here) before adding the caramel! The first caramel may get slightly squished when you pry it out of the pan, but the caramels generally come out easily if you remove them immediately after slicing. Use a very sharp, warm (run under hot water and dried) knife for best results.
Homemade Sea Salt Caramels
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup corn syrup
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 – 2 tbsp sea salt (rec. Maldon brand)
Lightly grease a 9×9 -inch glass or pyrex baking dish with butter or a thin coat of vegetable oil.
In a large saucepan, combine water, corn syrup and sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat, then continue to boil until caramel turns a deep honey color (10-14 minutes).
While sugar cooks, combine cream and butter in a microwave-safe bowl and cook for 1-2 minutes on high heat, until butter is melted. Set aside.
When sugar is a deep honey color, pour in cream mixture. Caramel will bubble up vigorously. Stir until bubbles subside slightly, then stir in salt. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and continue to cook, stirring regularly with a silicone spatula, until caramel reaches 260F (5-10 minutes).
Pour caramel into prepared dish. Allow caramel to cool completely, then sprinkle evenly with sea salt.
Cut caramels into small squares or rectangles with a warm, sharp knife.
Caramels can be served immediately or wrapped in small squares of wax paper. Caramels will keep for a few weeks at room temperature.
Makes about 3-4 dozen, depending on the size of your caramels.