How To Make Caramels With Flavor Infusions

Today we will talk about the sexiest candy recipe out there: caramel.  With its amber color and salted sweetness, it is eye candy at its best. Not only are they pleasing to look at (which is why they make awesome gifts), but they are also chewy, melt-in-your-mouth, deeply sweet, and insanely addictive. Basically, there is every reason that you need to learn how to make homemade caramels at home. Besides, you probably have all the ingredients in your pantry anyway.

So grab your candy thermometer, your favorite pot, and let's get candy making! Then, of course, we'll show you how to change up these homemade caramel candies in 10 delicious ways.

How to Make Both Soft Caramels and Firm Caramels

Before you can begin experimenting with flavor profiles, you need to be able to whip up a batch of this traditional candy. Sure it only takes a handful of ingredients and a relatively easy recipe, but the real secret to these deeply flavored candies is time and temperature.

Naturally adding unsalted butter, heavy cream, light corn syrup, vanilla extract and sugar to a recipe will make whatever you produce yummy, but to bring your caramel to the next level, you need to focus on its texture.

If you have ever made caramel sauce, you're off to a great start. However, if this is your first time making caramel, one thing to remember is not to walk away from the stovetop. I repeat, do not take your eyes off that pot. That means no answering the phone, no bathroom breaks, and no YouTube (we all know how easy it is to get distracted there). You also want to make sure you have a pastry brush and a bowl of cold water handy. To prevent sugar crystals from forming on the sides of the pan, a wet pastry brush will do the trick. Once you do it once you'll be an old pro.

The Sugar Heat Stages

Your sugar will go through all the heat stages including thread, soft ball, firm ball, hard ball, soft crack, hard crack, and ending in caramel, which is between 320 - 360 degrees F. When you add your fat, the temperature drops to soft ball stage, which is for soft caramels. You can bring it up to firm ball stage or hard ball for a firmer caramel piece.

How To Store Caramels

Wrap the caramels in wax paper or parchment paper and store them in an airtight container at room temperature. You can also place the wrapped caramels in the freezer in an airtight bag for up to six months.

Variations on Caramel

Once you've mastered a basic caramel, it's time to take things up a notch and start experimenting with different flavors.

Try one, try them all. Just make sure to share!

1. Salted Caramel

This classic variation is a must when you start getting fancy with your treats. Just make sure to get a good quality sea salt and don't add too much.

Try Maldon for a great flaky option. Get the recipe here from BS' in the Kitchen.

2. Bourbon Caramel

Bourbon is the liquid form of caramel. Both treats have smokey, salty undertones with a breath of honey. Both are absolutely delightful and decadent.

But when you put the two parts of this indulgent equation together you get one answer: perfection. Get the recipe here from Shutterbean.

3. Chocolate Caramel

No, this isn't chocolate fudge, it's chocolate caramel! If you're making variations on this classic treat, why wouldn't you try adding chocolate? It's one of the natural pairings in the dessert world.

Just make sure you know what you're doing so that you can maintain the satiny, softer caramel texture. Get the recipe here from Mel's Kitchen.

4. Almond Caramel

Sometimes you want to add a bit of texture and crunch to an otherwise silky dessert. That is where almonds come in.

Toast them, pair them with a hint of orange zest, and you will find yourself with a treat to please all the senses.

Get the recipe here from Saveur.

5. Rose Water + Orange Blossom Caramel

Browned butter, rich rose, and velvety orange come together to transport your senses to another dimension. This is like no caramel you've ever had the joy of sampling.

Get the recipe here from Maureen Abood.

6. Cardamom Caramel

A little bit of spice and a lot a bit of nice, you will find these little squares of joy to be pleasantly addictive.

Get the recipe here from Sweet and Savory by Shinee.

7. Blood Orange Caramel

Citrus contrasts admirably with buttery caramels to blend into this dreamy rendition of a classic.

Get the caramel recipe here from Husbands That Cook.

8. Gingerbread Caramel

Gingerbread is not just for Christmas. And now you can have an excuse to enjoy those beautifully balanced flavors year-round with this recipe.

Get the recipe here from Love & Olive Oil.

9. Black Sesame Caramel

This unusual addition to a classic chewy caramel is surprisingly compelling. The toasty flavor of black sesame is perfectly suited for the dark flavor profile of caramel.

Get the recipe here from Belly Rumbles.

10. Coffee Caramel

What doesn't coffee go with? It certainly goes with chocolate, so why wouldn't it belong comfortably with its other natural counterpart, caramel?

Get the recipe here from Girl Cooks World.

11. Honey, Pistachio, Saffron Caramels

Traditionally called sohan asali, these loaded caramels are a popular feature at many a Persian New Year's table.

Complex and aromatic, these treats are sure to satisfy even the most adventurous caramel enthusiast. Get the recipe here from SBS.

This post was originally published on February 21, 2017.