Just about everybody loves caramel candies. The chewy, gooey, buttery decadence is unrivaled, especially when the caramel is still slightly warm. And of course, what goes better with apples in the fall than a fresh homemade caramel sauce (a homemade caramel without corn syrup!)?
And like most anything else, they’re usually better (’cause they’re fresh) when you make them yourself. If you’ve never tried to make homemade caramel without corn syrup, you really should give it a shot. It’s super easy (really, all you do is boil the mixture to a certain temperature), and you get to control (i.e. exclude) any ingredients that you don’t want. You should know by now that I don’t post recipes that require a whole lot of slaving away in the kitchen, and I’m not going to start with this one!
I checked out the ingredients of two common caramels and found things like hydrogenated oils, soy protein, lots of artificial colors (who knew you needed Red, Blue and Yellow to make that lovely shade of brown?), corn starch, and artificial flavors (why enjoy the real caramel flavor when you can have fake?). Umm, thanks but no thanks, candy makers. I like my food to be non-fake. Even if I am making homemade caramel candy…
Homemade Caramel Without Corn Syrup
For our basic homemade caramel candy, we’re using butter, sugar, cream, honey, pure vanilla, and a pinch of sea salt. And looking at that list of ingredients, you know something good is coming out of it, no matter what form it takes 🙂 Make sure you use the highest-quality ingredients that you can get your hands on!
Because I’m not a big fan of corn syrup, we’re replacing it with the honey here. It acts in a similar manner, but it’s a real ingredient, not something that came out of a factory.
All you need to do is combine the ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Make sure you stir frequently to keep it all from scorching.
You’ll need a candy thermometer to keep track of the temperature – if you want to use this for dipping apples or topping ice cream, remove from the heat at 230 – 235 F. If you’re using it to make homemade caramel candy, 245 – 250 F is better. The lower the temperature, the softer it is when it cools.
Extra-Special Bonus Recipes:
Maple Walnut Caramels
Substitute 1 1/2 cups brown sugar for the regular sugar and 3/4 cup maple syrup for the honey; cook as per the original instructions. After removing from heat, stir in a dash each of cinnamon, ground nutmeg, and ground cloves, and 1 1/2 cups chopped toasted walnuts. Pour and let cool.
Chocolate Coconut Caramels
Prepare the basic caramel recipe. Toast 1 cup of shredded coconut, and spread half of it on the parchment paper. When it comes time to remove from heat, stir in about 8 ounces of dark or bittersweet chocolate (a decent-sized bar works; I didn’t actually measure mine and it turned out fine). Pour the caramel mixture onto the parchment, then sprinkle the remaining coconut over the top. Let cool.
The next time you’re have a craving for some caramel, try this homemade caramel without corn syrup – it’s easy, delicious, and all natural (even if it’s not exactly a health food)!