Pumpkin Spice Caramels
And so, the pumpkin/pumpkin spice craze continues… this time in the form of delicious and chewy caramels.
Last weekend I had a long-standing kitchen date/caramel-making lesson with my friend, Carissa. I’m always happy to forgo my diet in the name of helping others! After we finished our first batch of basic salted caramels, which I was impressed only took us one try (I suppose at this point I’m a little more seasoned in the dangerous art of caramel), we decided to make a second batch with a seasonal spin. So Carissa whipped up some homemade pumpkin spice (I’d recently run out-big surprise), and we added it to our base recipe. What I love about caramel-making is once you master the basics, its so easy to customize the flavor, especially since the ingredient list is minimal and the process is rather quick, you can easily whip up multiple batches in one afternoon.
The caramel recipe we followed comes from The Kitchn, and I highly recommend heading over there to read their long and informative post before diving into the recipe. Caramel-making may seem simple but it really is a science, and there are little things you need to pay attention to yield the results you’re after. One thing that perplexed us after our caramels were cooled and ready to cut and wrap, was that while our salted caramels turned out lighter in color, they were firmer; and even though we cooked our spiced caramels a tad longer to achieve a dark amber color, they were much softer. Some of the sweet mysteries of caramel-making are still lost on me, but I just chalk them up to delicious happenstance!
Homemade Pumpkin Spice
- 4 TBSP cinnamon
- 4 tsp nutmeg
- 4 tsp ginger
- 3 tsp allspice
Pumpkin Spice Caramels
From The Kitchn. Makes about 55 caramels.
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup corn syrup
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin spice
- 8×8 baking dish (or similar size)
- Parchment paper
- 2-quart saucepan
- 4-quart saucepan
- Instant-read thermometer or candy thermometer
- Wax paper
1. Prepare the caramel mold. Line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment so that excess paper hangs over the edges. Spray the parchment and the sides of the pan with nonstick spray.
2. Melt the butter in the cream. Over medium heat, warm the cream, butter, and salt in the 2-quart saucepan until the butter melts. Remove from heat, but keep the pan close by.
3. Combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water. In the larger 4-quart saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water. Stir until the sugar is evenly moistened and you form a thick grainy paste. Wipe down the sides of the pan with a damp pastry brush so there are no sugar crystals above the surface of the sugar mixture. Clip the instant-read thermometer to the side of the pan so that the heat sensor is immersed in the sugar. Do not stir the sugar after this point.
Note: The large saucepan is necessary because the sugar will bubble up and triple in size when you add the cream. Do not substitute a smaller pan.
4. Cook the sugar syrup. Place the pot with the sugar mixture over medium to medium-high heat. Let the sugar syrup come to a boil without stirring. At first, you will see small bubbles around the edge of the pan, which will eventually move inward. Around 250°F, the sugar syrup will turn transparent and boil rapidly. Around 320°F, the syrup will darken slightly and smell caramel-like. You can proceed to the next step any time after the syrup reaches 250°F and before it reaches 325°F.
Note: If your instant-read thermometer isn’t quite submerged into the sugar, you may need to tilt the pan to get an accurate reading. Simply tilt the pan by the handle until the thermometer is submerged a few inches in the sugar syrup. If the syrup hasn’t reached 250°, wipe down the sides with a pastry brush again. If it has, there’s no need.
5. Whisk in the cream and butter. Turn off the heat under the sugar syrup. Slowly pour the warm cream and butter mixture into the sugar syrup while whisking the sugar syrup gently. The sugar syrup will bubble up and triple in size. Stop whisking once all the milk and butter mixture has been added.
6. Heat the caramel to 245°F – 250°F. Return the pan to medium to medium-high heat. Let the caramel come to a boil without stirring. It will start off as a soft buttery yellow and eventually darken to reddish-brown caramel. Remove from heat when the caramel reaches 245°F to 250°F.
7. Whisk in the vanilla and pumpkin spice.
8. Pour the caramels into the mold. Immediately pour the caramels into the mold. Do not scrape the pan (there are sometimes hard burnt bits on the bottom). Knock the pan agains the counter a few times to help air bubbles work their way out.
9. Let the caramels set. Set the caramels somewhere out of the way to set, for at least two hours or (ideally) overnight. Once the caramels have cooled to room temperature, you can cover the pan.
10. Cut the caramels. When the caramels have set, lift them out of the pan by the parchment paper flaps and onto a cutting board. Cut the caramels into candies with a very sharp knife. If the caramels stick to your knife, spray your knife with nonstick cooking spray.
11. Wrap the caramels in wax paper. Cut squares of wax paper a little longer than your caramels. Wrap each caramel in wax paper and twist the ends closed. Caramels will keep at room temperature for about two weeks.