Salted Butter Caramels

pouring caramel

I had a wee bit of a dilemma recently. In my refrigerator was a half-jar of crème fraîche, that I had to use up before I left for a recent vacation on the beach. I’d been thinking about making caramels with it, but I also knew that I would be slipping on a swimsuit within a few weeks. And being alone in my apartment with an open jar of ultra-rich crème fraîche was probably not a good idea.

bordier butter salted cup of creme fraiche

So what did I do? I hemmed and hawed about it, until I channeled my mother, who would have flipped out if I tossed away the rest of the crème fraîche. (Or anything, for that matter.)

So I made caramels.

starting caramel

I love candy making and used to dream of opening a shop that only sold homemade candy. I don’t think it’d be much of a success, simply because a lot of people don’t care about homemade candy as much as I do. But when you make it yourself, you can use the best ingredients and anyone who has ever experience the smell of good cream and butter sizzling in a pot of deep-dark caramel knows what I’m talking about.

creme fraiche lyle's golden syrup

When I moved to France, I picked up my wonderful copper candy pot at a flea market for about €30, which I treasure, and it’s really sturdy. But unlike the copper pot—and everyone who lives in France is going to love me for this—you know how the aluminum foil here is thinner than newsprint and rips as soon as you try to shape it around anything?

aluminum foil foil-lined pan

Get yourself to Auchan, which I learned a few years ago, has heavy-duty foil. It’s amazing how the little things make me happy nowadays, like a pot of cream or sturdy foil, isn’t it?

sugar and syrup caramel pot handle

Speaking of thick French things, the first time I tried these, the thick crème fraîche, 40% fat content, made them smell amazing when I cooked the caramel, but the finished caramels were oozing silky, slippery, butterfat all over the place. And while delicious, the little squares were a bit hard to hold on to and my head hurt thinking about the comments that would generate ; )

Curiously, in France, it’s very easy to find crème fraîche in any supermarket. But fresh, pourable heavy cream (crème liquide) is difficult to find. Like in the states, ultra-pasteurized is what’s usually available. But do try to find one that’s fresh, not ultra-pasteurized.

happy caramel caramel spoon

Because salted butter caramel deserves only over-the-top ingredients, my Bordier salted butter was called into service. I have three or four kinds of butter on hand at all times, but reserve this mostly for spreading on my morning toast because it’s so precious. It’s €1.80 for 125 g (about 4 ounces, or 1 stick) and even though it’s pricey, I’d pay twice that it’s so good. So don’t tell the fromager who I get it from. (Who last time winked at me, which was worth the extra euros!)

A few tips:

1. Pay attention all the time. Don’t leave the kitchen with a pot of caramel boiling and use a heavy-bottomed, large saucepan. And be aware that the boiling caramel is very hot so take precautions handling it at all times.

2. Have all your equipment and ingredients ready. Pretend you’re a surgeon and have all your tools well-arranged before you start.

3. Candy making depends on accuracy, so you’ll need a candy thermometer. Don’t use those one of those with a probe at the end of a metal cord. I had a Polder one and the device blew out on its first use. When I called, they said if the probe touches the bottom of the pot, which is hotter than the syrup, that can happen. So that was $30 down in the trash and they refused to replace it. Lesson learned.

Hand-held digital probe thermometers are inconvenient for candy making, so I use a simple bulb one, a Taylor. You can get candy thermometers inexpensively in almost any supermarket or hardware store. If you’re unsure if your thermometer is accurate, bring a pot of water to a boil with the thermometer in it; at sea level, it should read 212ºF (100ºC.)

cutting butter in melting butter in caramel

3. Use a heatproof spatula. I am a huge fan of the spoon-spatulas made my Le Creuset. When I taught classes in various Sur La Table stores, I’d get to the stores a few hours early and make a beeline for the Sale rack which was full of discontinued merchandise. Le Creuset runs various colors at certain times of the year (orange, for example, around Halloween, red around Valentine’s Day). And afterward, the items got heavily-reduced so I’d snatch up as many as I could. They’re pretty great.

4. Don’t overstir the syrup. Sugar is a crystal and once you melt it, stirring encourages those crystals to hook back up. So only stir as much as necessary to keep the mixture smooth and to make sure nothing is burning on the bottom.

5. These caramels are slightly firm, but will still melt in your mouth. Waving the blade of a sharp chef’s knife over the flame on a gas burned to warm it will help you get nice, even slices if you do it before each cut.


Salted Butter Caramels
40-50 candies

Because many people are leery of corn syrup, you can use Golden or rice syrup in this recipe in its place. (For those into agave nectar, I haven’t tried it, but suspect it may not have the right sugar density for candy making.) If using one of these darker syrups, you’ll need to be a bit vigilant and stir it as it’s cooking, since it can cook quickly in certain spots of the pan. Your finished caramels will also be darker, too.

I use salted butter. Traditional wisdom was to only use unsalted butter in baking so you could control the amount of salt. But I like the slightly funky taste of salted butter, and if you can find one that’s cultured, the flavor is incomparable. If you only have unsalted butter, just add a few extra flecks of salt to the cream.

  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, bean paste, or powder
  • rounded 1/2 teaspoon + 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt, preferably fleur de sel
  • 1/2 cup (160 g) light corn syrup, golden syrup (such as Lyle's) or rice syrup*
  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (60 g), total, salted butter, cubed, at room temperature

1. Line a 9-inch (23 cm) loaf pan with foil and spray the inside with cooking spray.

2. Heat the cream with 2 tablespoons of the butter in a small saucepan with the vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt until the mixture begins to boil. Remove from heat, cover, and keep warm while you cook the syrup.

3. In a medium, heavy duty saucepan (4 quarts, 4l), fitted with a candy thermometer, heat the corn syrup, golden, or rice syrup with the sugar, and cook, stirring gently, to make sure the sugar melts smoothly. Once the mixture is melted together and the sugar is evenly moistened, only stir is as necessary to keep it from getting any hot spots.

4. Cook until the syrup reaches 310ºF (155ºC).

To get an accurate reading while the syrup is cooking, tilt the saucepan to make sure the bulb of the thermometer is fully submerged in the syrup, tilting the pan if necessary.

4. Turn off the heat and stir in the warm cream mixture, until smooth.

5. Turn the heat back on and cook the mixture to 260F (127C).

6. Remove the pan from the heat, lift out the thermometer, and stir in the cubes of butter, until it’s melted and the mixture smooth.

7. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and wait ten minutes, then sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of the sea salt over the top. Set on a cool rack and let cool completely. Once cool, lift out the foil with the caramel, peel away the foil, and slice the bar of caramel with a long, sharp knife into squares or rectangles.

Storage: These caramels can be individually-wrapped in cellophane or waxed paper. Once cut, they may stick together if not wrapped. Store in an air-tight container, and they’ll keep for about one month.

*The rice syrup I use is from the Asian market I shop at, found in the Korean foods aisle. I don’t know how it compares to rice syrup sold in natural food’s stores, but if anyone knows, you are welcome to leave that information in the comments.

Related Recipes and Links

Candy Thermometers

Caramel Wrappers (Amazon)

Baking Ingredients and Substitutions

Candied Peanuts

Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream

How To Make the Perfect Caramel

Chocolate-Covered Salted Peanut Butter Cups

Peanut Butter Cookies with Salted Peanut Caramel

Triple Chocolate Scotcheroos

Salted Butter Caramel Sauce (Smitten Kitchen)

Valrhona Chocolate School

Quince Caramels (Chez Pim)

White Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats

Espresso Caramels (101 Cookbooks)

Coffee Toffee (Zoë Bakes)

Le Roux Salted Butter Caramels

Chocolate-Covered Caramelized Matzoh Crunch

Chocolate Almond Buttercrunch Toffee

Lyle’s Golden Syrup (Amazon)

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  • January 26, 2010 5:41pm

    I’ll trade you my soul for a batch of caramels. Deal?

  • January 26, 2010 5:41pm

    How you ended up with perfectly uniform caramels, I’ll never know. Salt and caramel are, in my opinion, a match made in heaven. With caramels like these, I would be the first customer pounding on the door of your homemade candy shop.

  • January 26, 2010 5:43pm

    Oh my god! Whenever I’m sad salted butter caramels are the best drugs ever! They are even better then chocolate! They can solve all my problems….just love them! Your pictures just made me desire one right now…

    Have you ever tasted the ones from Jacques Genin, in the Marais?

    Yes, I have. Jacques Genin caramels are indeed wonderful. Here’s a link to his caramels, which I posted about a while ago. -dl

  • Mary Beth
    January 26, 2010 5:45pm

    At last! I don’t have to feel guilty about my Sur le Table spoonula/spatula habit! (Still regret missing the post-Halloween sale a couple of years ago, when the candy corn spatulas were on sale.)

    I’ve got all the ingredients at home, except for the cream – I may be making a batch of caramels this weekend. Office co-workers would be happy, my lose-a-bunch-of-weight-before-going-to-Australia goal wouldn’t be…

  • Christine
    January 26, 2010 5:47pm

    Oh so beautiful David. Please come to see me when you are in L.A. We have a store in Pasadena now. All the best, Christine Moore- Little FLower Candy Co.

  • January 26, 2010 5:49pm

    With all this candy making, you will soon run out of reasons to visit Denises little shop.

    You wouldn’t want to make that happen would you?

  • January 26, 2010 5:58pm

    Hi David – these look INSANE. Just imaging how they must taste, with Bordier butter and everything… mmm… heavenly! About time to get myself a good thermometer, though…

    On another note, I’m going down to Salon du Chocolat Tokyo this week for some Bernachon treats :)

  • January 26, 2010 5:58pm

    I’m a little confused. You used the creme fraiche, right? But the recipe calls for heavy cream. I’m a Canadian reader and I would happily use creme fraiche. Should I or shouldn’t I? These look gorgeous and divine.

  • January 26, 2010 6:01pm

    I saw the blog post title, and then I saw the Bordier wrapper – and I thought to myself – how does he do anything with it besides place (not spread of course) on bread ?! Never brought myself to bake/cook with that heavenly butter, since it’s just too good eaten “nature”. But then again, if I had a shop within 100 km of me that sold it, I’d probably be making these caramels…. right now (midnight for the record).

    Love the photo of the dripping caramel, just fantastic. And YES, I am so with you on the tin foil saga. Auchan, good to know ! That’s one of the items I lug back to Zürich in my suitcase on transatlantic flights ! Great post, thanks for all the helpful tips and sources.

  • January 26, 2010 6:03pm

    I absolutely love salted butter caramels! Yours look awesome :)

  • January 26, 2010 6:04pm

    “and they’ll keep for about one month”. Hahaha :)

    best joke of the week :D.

  • January 26, 2010 6:15pm

    Oh my! Those look deadly. I wish I could get Bordier butter here….

  • Lisa in Seattle
    January 26, 2010 6:25pm

    Yes! Yes! Yes! Sorry to go all Meg Ryan on you, but thank you for this recipe!

  • Sigrid
    January 26, 2010 6:34pm

    Just checked. There’s no Auchan in Paris, is there? At least the website doesn’t give me any address nearby (we’re in the 8em). Anyway, as I ordered Tapioca perles, amandes hachées and feuilles for making torrone for the first time online today I will also find a place that sends me sturdier foil.

    Why haven’t I made those caramels the first time they showed up in my RSS-reader? I could so use them right now!

    PS: How do you Americans measure butter by tablespoons? Do you smear it into the spoons or something?

  • Sigrid
    January 26, 2010 6:35pm

    PPS: Love all postings that start with “Had a dilemma today” and end with something heavenly like salted butter caramels.

  • Susan
    January 26, 2010 6:52pm

    I love to make candy. It’s so damp here in the bay area right now that I’ve put it aside until it drys out a little bit. Can’t wait to try these.

    Sigrid..our butter comes in 4ounce you can try to cut it into 8 even pieces or you can throw a 4ounce wrapped stick on a scale and add butter until it weighs 4.125 ounces. (thats how I do it if I need precision and since the scale I have doesn”t weight/measure less than 1oz, I need to balance it with something else.

  • January 26, 2010 6:53pm

    David – your previous posts and tips on making the perfect caramel were my tutors for my first caramel making venture – the first batch scorched (I was trying a little too hard, apparently, to take it right to the edge of burning without quite falling into the fire) but the second – oh the second! I never liked caramel before I made it home made. These pictures look marvelous and I will have to give these a try the next time I have a party or need to make small, but very special gifts.

  • Susan
    January 26, 2010 6:56pm

    Ooops..bad math! that would be 4.5 ounces..sorry!

  • Kathleen
    January 26, 2010 7:01pm

    Heavenly! I’m nearly finished with my box from Christmas, may have to make these this weekend.
    Sigrid: In America, the butter packages are printed with the measure on the stick of butter. So if you need one tablespoon you cut at the first mark and so on.

  • January 26, 2010 7:06pm

    Everyone is telling me to eat French caramels while in Paris. But I say, why eat other caramels when I could buy some of these delicious specimens from you? Or better yet, I can just make them myself, while in Paris! They would surely be considered French caramels then… :)

  • Fernanda
    January 26, 2010 7:31pm

    Great photos and post! Dear David, I was wondering if it is possible to use maple syrup, what do you think?

  • Maureen in Austin
    January 26, 2010 8:29pm

    Oh I just love salted caramels, but my candy making seems to always end in disaster.
    If I’m lucky, an edible disaster but a disaster nevertheless. But that’s what ice cream is for, right? To top with things that don’t harden?

  • January 26, 2010 8:47pm

    These caramels look mouth-watering! I can very much imagine how good the salty and sweet gooey caramel is going to taste in my mouth. I love caramel but never had it homemade. I actually never had much luck making candy at home. I once tried making nougat at least 5 times but didn’t get the temperature right even though I kept experimenting with different recipes. I need a candy thermometer. It’s time to buy one, especially after seeing these gorgeous caramels.


  • January 26, 2010 8:48pm

    It’s rainy and chilly in Los Angeles today — you gave me a reason to get out of bed. These were amazing! Love your pics and your style as always.

  • Rebecca
    January 26, 2010 8:48pm

    Wow! Those are beautiful – the caramels and the photos. Clearly someone learned a lot at Food Blogger Paradise Vacation Camp…

  • January 26, 2010 8:49pm

    I am SO happy you put this recipe on your sight–I just returned from a three week study abroad in Paris, so I was goin nuts on the salted caramel train and miss it terribly

  • January 26, 2010 8:53pm

    It is always refreshing to read some extolling the virtues of using good ingredients in something like homemade candy. Oh, and I so wish that people WOULD frequent that shop that you dreamed of owning. I know I would!

  • Skippy
    January 26, 2010 9:08pm

    I love to make candy! Let’s open a shop together!

    First, I cannot get over the beautiful color of your butter. Oh my gosh. Please think of that anytime you get frustrated by thin aluminum foil.

    Now two questions if you don’t mind:

    1) I have a Taylor candy thermometer like you recommend, which was given to me as a gift by someone who heard that I was interested in candymaking. It’s great for cooking sugar, but doesn’t go low enough to use for tempering chocolate (the lowest temp is 100 F). Is there a thermometer you recommend for working with chocolate?

    2) I’ve been thinking of making some molded chocolate candies and was considering using a caramel filling. If I wanted to use this salted caramel recipe for a filling for the candies, what temperature should I cook it to that would make it liquid enough for a filling? Or does that idea not make any sense at all?

    Thank you!

  • Paula
    January 26, 2010 9:11pm

    Ah, Lyle’s Golden syrup. That’s going in my next batch.

  • Bernadette
    January 26, 2010 9:12pm

    Look at that butter! Gorgeous!

    Beautiful little caramels, David, pefectly sized, cut, photgraphed.

  • January 26, 2010 9:18pm

    These look amazing and it doesn’t hurt that I have an extraordinaire passion for anything salted caramel. I so agree with you too; why bother with the process of making your own if not using only the best ingredients. Let us know when there’s a store please!

  • LaJean
    January 26, 2010 9:50pm

    David, your post stirred up incredible, sweet memories of making caramels growing up on the farm. The milk from our small herd of Jerseys produced broad layers of thick cream. If there was a surplus in the refrigerator on a Saturday night, we would often make caramels and another scrumptious candy we called “Italian Creams.” Incomparable!

  • jen
    January 26, 2010 10:27pm

    I haven’t even tried your recipe yet, but I still think is the right time to declare my undying love for you. And your candy.

    Thanks too for the tip on the Polder! I haven’t destroyed mine yet (must have lucked out with my caramel), but now I know what *not* to do.

  • January 26, 2010 10:56pm

    Gorgeous! I cannot wait to try these, as caramel and sea salt have recently become one of my favorite flavor combinations. But I think it’s a fair assumption that these little beauties wouldn’t last more than a week in my kitchen, and certainly not a month! Thanks for a great post.

  • kristina
    January 26, 2010 11:01pm

    Brilliant! I can’t wait until Saturday to make a batch! Thank you oceans of times over for writing a clear, of-course-you-can-do-this formula!

  • Margaret
    January 27, 2010 12:30am

    Hey David — your photos look unusually gorgeous and yummy — did you pick up some new ideas in Mexico?

  • January 27, 2010 12:56am

    David, would these work with glucose syrup? That’s what we usually substitute for corn syrup when we’re candymaking, as the latter isn’t as readily available here in Oz. They look amaaaazing, btw.. :)

    Thanks, Celia

  • January 27, 2010 2:40am

    Sigrid: Hypermarchés aren’t allowed in Paris, but there are Auchan’s at La Defense and Porte de Batignolles. Also Auchan owns the supermarket chain Simply (which used to be called ‘ATAC’) which likely carries it, too.

    Cheryl: I noted that they were too slippery with the crème fraiche, and while they were delicious, I thought readers (like myself) would have a hard time with them. So in the recipe published, I used regular heavy cream–one that was about 30% butterfat.

    Celia: Yes, you can use glucose syrup in place of the other syrups.

    jen: I was pretty irked with that thermometer, but they told me have to hold it and wave it in the syrup-but not let it touch the bottom. Lesson learned (albeit too late…)

    Skippy: I don’t know what temperature to cook it to get it to the right temperature without testing it, but I use a chocolate tempering thermometer, which is more precise and measures lower temperatures.

    Maureen: As mentioned, I tested the recipe a few times with various ingredients and ended up melting one down, adding a touch of milk (just enough to get it to the right consistency I liked), and using it as a sauce for ice cream. Delicious!

    Mary Beth: Candy corn spatulas? Yikes, how did I miss those??

  • January 27, 2010 3:00am

    I’ve been waiting for you to post a recipe for salted butter caramels. Thanks!

  • jill roberts
    January 27, 2010 3:03am

    You should let people know this is a specialty of Brittany….where salted butter is like a religion…maybe I missed it so sorry if that is the case. I live in Bretagne and you can buy the caramels in candy form and in jars. Some are better than others…i’m sure the homemade version is the best but if you want to cheat you can buy them in any tourist shop in Bretagne.

  • January 27, 2010 3:08am

    jill: I have mentioned Brittany extensively here on the blog, and did include a link (at the end of the post) to a visit I made to Henri Le Roux, who is widely-considered to be the person who popularized salted butter caramel.

  • bryan
    January 27, 2010 3:32am


    when you made these first with creme fraiche, did you cook it in place of the cream,
    or did you finish the caramel with creme fraiche instead of butter?

  • stephanie
    January 27, 2010 4:13am

    Thank you for the tip on the foil at Auchan. One less thing for my husband to bring back from the US.

    David…..pleeeease open a homemade candy shop here in Paris. I will come every week and bring lots of friends. Plus it would be so fun to read about all the funny things you have to go through to open a store in France :)

  • January 27, 2010 4:27am

    I do wish I had your talent but thank God we live in Paris and can go to l’Etoile d’Or for our caramels – a place you’ve written about several times and thanks to you, I’m now a regular customer :-).

  • January 27, 2010 5:28am

    The picture of those caramels takes me back to when my grandmother used to bring us bags of Kraft caramels when we lived in Colombia. Kraft is a naughty word here at the moment, having recently taken over Cadbury’s, so I will make these for my English friends as a peace offering to show them that life is still worth living.

    Thanks for the recipe David. Your name will be on everyone’s lips this afternoon.

  • Sandra
    January 27, 2010 6:34am

    You suggested using a light corn syrup ( meaning light in color) as there is also one that is not only light in color, but lower “sugar” content. You also suggested rice syrup. I have to assume that these work well because there is no other” flavor” involved to interfere with the finished decadent chewy heavenly product. So, my question is this–what about maple syrup–the real stuff from Vermont ( or Canada)–would that work and would it affect the flavor?

  • Sunny
    January 27, 2010 7:33am

    Hi all — those of you in Europe might be glad to know that you can also find decent tin foil AND decent plastic wrap at Lidl. Cheap, too.

  • January 27, 2010 7:39am

    I have used honey as a substitute for corn syrup with great success. I haven’t tried maple syrup (yet) but I think that will be an experiment I try shortly.

  • Amy A
    January 27, 2010 8:03am

    I made salted caramels the other day and they turned out to be pretty hard…tooth-sticking, hard-to-cut, more like hard candies caramels. What do you think that I could have done wrong? (I took the mixture to 257 degrees F) Please help! They taste great but I don’t have extra money to spend on dental work!

  • January 27, 2010 8:56am

    those caramel squares look mouth watering! if they were beside me now…well, they wouldnt be here anymore (coz i would have eaten them all already)!!

  • January 27, 2010 9:10am

    fernanda, Mary and sandra: I haven’t tried it with maple syrup and think it’s not the right density. But if you do give it a try, let me know how it works.

    bryan: I used it in place of the cream. But because of the butterfat content, they were too slick. Perhaps a lower fat crème fraîche might work, but I haven’t tried it.

    Amy A: I’m unable to advise about other people’s recipes, but give this one a try. The butter is added after the syrup is cooked, so it’s a bit softer (although still firm enough to cut.) As with any chewy candy, it’s best to enjoy it with prudence.

  • Cindy
    January 27, 2010 9:11am

    Salt caramels are one of my favorites. Dip those in dark chocolate and sprinkle a few salt crystals on top, it’s heaven.

  • Kate
    January 27, 2010 9:48am

    Speaking of salty-sweet, David, do you have reason to believe that Callebaut chocolate is saltier than other makers’? I bought a chunk at Whole Paycheck recently in which to dip macaroons. The chocolate just seems salty! Luckily, I think it’s delicious, but I can’t be sure if it’s the chocolate, one of the other ingredients in the macaroons, or if I accidentally knocked some salt from the salt cellar into the bowl of melting chocolate!

  • Kerrie
    January 27, 2010 10:21am

    Hello. I adore your site (and have bought your books based on your site so keep up the fab work). Coincidently, was just researching Salted Chocolate Caramels yesterday and have a recipe from Gourmet Dec 2006 which seems to have proved a bit finicky based on the comments. I am guessing it has something to do with the chocolate being put into the caramel and the whole lot being brought upt to 255 F. Martha has a somewhat similar recipe but does not cook the chocolate but rather pours the caramel over the chocolate and lets it melt. In any case, think I will try yours instead. Read your tips re making caramel yesterday and thank you for clarifying difference between wet and dry caramel techniques. All the very best.

  • Susan
    January 27, 2010 10:55am

    David, these look UNBELIEVABLE! Call me crazy (which you will) but I’ve never been much of a chocolate person, though no caramel or jar of dulce de leche is safe around me. So I’m really excited to try these. One, question – I adore salted butter, and since I suspect Bordier is not to be found in the US, are there any US brands you’ve tried that you would recommend? I do like Vermont Butter and Cheese Co’s sea salt butter, but it’s so pricy I don’t know that I’d bake with it – I save it for toast.

  • January 27, 2010 11:13am

    These look so beautiful…
    I really want to try making them. I don’t have a candy thermometer though.

    Thank you David for all these wonderful recipes you share with us.


  • Cyndi
    January 27, 2010 11:15am

    Those look lovely. I definitely plan on making this recipe for Valentine’s Day! Your post was perfect timingwise. Just went to a great little store in NYC (JB Prince) and they have a guitar that could cut/score caramels into uniform perfect little bites. It was about $1,500 and not in my budget right now…but would be the perfect tool. How did you get yours to look so perfect??? Also, I am planning to embark on an artisan chocolate making journey, possibly next year and would like your advice on training in France (read your Valrohna post-very inspirational) when you have a moment.

  • Panu
    January 27, 2010 11:15am

    Long Time Listener, First Time Caller.
    I LOVE CARAMELS! These look great. Your salted butter caramel sauce recipe is also the best.
    For those lucky enough to live in the Midwest – Organic Valley makes excellent cultured butters – but beware – the standard salted butter is NOT cultured –
    Also, adding butter at the end adds moisture, as you noted, so clarifying fat% may be helpful. The amount of water in a boiling sugar solution drops precipitously between 250-260F, so calibrating your thermometers is very crucial, as you say.
    I boil my caramel at lower heat, both for better temp control, and more browning (read – flavor).
    Thanks for all your books and blog!

  • Mary Blanca
    January 27, 2010 11:27am

    Can’t wait to try this recipe. I took a caramel making class a couple of months ago and have been on a roll ever since. Per your recommendation, I only use Fleur de sel de Guérande. I will hunt down some French butter for my next batch.

    As another commenter mentioned, I want to try making chocolate caramels but so far none of the recipes fill me with confidence. The one for Gourmet seems finicky and other recipes use condensed milk and only a tiny amount of chocolate (how could they be any good?)

    Thanks again for the fantastic blog!

  • January 27, 2010 12:31pm

    David…I bought a digital candy thermometer which came with a squeeze clamp…took it off…and put the Polder through it..allows me to adjust the depth yet not have to hold it over hot syrup. The other thermometer was never accurate…so I recycled its holder.
    Love the recipe!

  • Terri
    January 27, 2010 1:18pm

    Based on your anecdote above, I can’t believe I haven’t already burned out my Polder. Anyway, I’m thinking of trying them this afternoon (despite the damp Bay Area weather). One question: the recipe calls for a 9″ loaf pan, but the finished caramels look like they came out of a straight-edged 9″ square pan. Thanks for clarifying.

    Kerrie: I have made the Epi salted chocolate caramels recipe several times with great success. One time they did come out a little harder, more like a See’s chocolate sucker (actually, almost exactly like a See’s chocolate sucker), but were still terrific. I was surprised by some of the negative user ratings.

  • January 27, 2010 3:21pm

    I do not enjoy making candy because of the humidity here. But, I might just have to get out the candy thermometer and make this. I love the photo of the caramel dripping from the spoon.

  • Larry Falxa
    January 27, 2010 3:34pm

    a question: How do I print a recipe from your Blog without getting all the comments that follow (62 Today)?

    Thanks so much. Larry Falxa

    I was hoping to add a print option for the recipes, but because of the number of blog entries and recipes I’ve added since the site was initially set up, it would take me weeks to reformat the whole site. You can cut and paste into Word, or use a site like Print what you like. -dl

  • Jenny
    January 27, 2010 3:35pm


    Are your books going to be available on the new iPad — can’t wait to get one!

  • Haley
    January 27, 2010 5:29pm

    If my caramels don’t firm up, can I melt them down and continue the cooking to try again?

  • Adriana
    January 27, 2010 8:25pm

    um, those look so good i just made out with my computer monitor which wouldn’t be so bad if i wasn’t still at work…

    i love caramel but the idea of molten sugar scares the heck out of me. but i think i’m going to have to suck it up and give these a shot. it’s the only way i can think of to stop myself from licking the monitor every time i see one of your caramel related pictures.

    also, i need to remember to clean my monitor more often. blech!

  • AngAk
    January 27, 2010 8:32pm

    for Larry, I “copy” the recipe and then “paste” into Word. then print the Word document, or save it.

  • Sharon
    January 27, 2010 8:46pm

    Yummy. In the ancient days, my younger sister and I would figure out the caramels in the nasty little box of candy my mother always got on Mother’s Day – always the first to go! And home made is simply heavenly.

    And I so understand about the foil – and for me in Germany, the plastic wrap. I bring them back wiht me from the US every time, and now German friends have started asking for please a little plastic wrap! (It’s an easy and delightful hostess gift!)

  • January 27, 2010 9:05pm

    Those are beautiful. I’ve made salted caramels before (they make such lovely gifts but they did not look as neat as yours. That’s a great tip with the knife. Unfortunately I have an electric range. Maybe immerse it in boiling water and wipe it off?

  • LB
    January 28, 2010 1:24am

    1.80EU doesn’t sound too bad for 125g of good butter, I’m paying around 7EU for that same amount of inferior (though still better than any Australian butter) French butter here.

  • Mat
    January 28, 2010 2:36am


    It looked so nice that I immediately tried it last night. Everything went fine but they turned out quite hard (i.e. a home made version of “Werther’s Originals”). Is that supposed to be so? If not, where is it most likely I went wrong? If yes, do you also have a recipe for soft version of salted butter caramels?

  • Stan
    January 28, 2010 4:34am

    I second Mary’s comment about using honey instead of corn (or other cereal) syrup.
    By choosing a flavored honey you can tweak the flavor profile of the caramels, which is always nice.

  • Terri
    January 28, 2010 7:08am

    Thanks David . . . sounds like a 8″ or 9″ square will be too large for this recipe.

  • January 28, 2010 7:24am

    The Le Creuset spoon/spatulas are soldé at BHV right now . . . in blue, for 5 euros!

  • January 28, 2010 8:32am

    Mat: Since 260ºF is still well below the hard crack stage for candymaking, it’s likely your thermometer is off. I made these three times and they were firm enough to hold their shape, but still chewy when I put one in my mouth and let it sit them for a few moments. In candymaking, sometimes humidity plays a factor as well, depending on where you live. So that may be a factor as well.

    Kim B: I have quite a few, but thanks for the tip!

    Jennifer: If you have a crummy knife that you don’t mind messing up, you can lay it against the burner to heat it up, wiping it clean between each slice. Otherwise you can simply slice them with a knife. Tip: Cutting them the next day allows them to get slightly softer.

    Haley: I made my duds in to sauce by adding a bit of milk or cream, but if you do try cooking them further, let me know how it works out.

    Terri: In Europe, most loaf pans are straight sided, but I did make one batch in this KitchenAid loaf pan, which has slightly sloping sides, and it worked fine.

    Jenny: I hope so…and maybe they’ll send me one, too! : )

  • January 28, 2010 8:45am

    Melting it down with a touch of cream… now I’ve got that in my head and won’t stop thinking about warm, salted caramel sauce on vanilla bean ice cream.

  • January 28, 2010 9:42am

    These look simply devine. I really enjoy all of the photos you posted of the various stages. Beautiful photography and a delicious looking recipe. C’est magnifique!

  • January 28, 2010 11:56am

    This is really great, also as a gift, I like it..!

  • Madeleine Hardt
    January 28, 2010 3:36pm

    Loved this article, you are the king of caramel in my opinion. But maybe you’ve been living too long in Europe and have forgotten that most Americans don’t convert euros to dollars in their heads instantly like you do. If you are going to bother to give the monetary value of ingredients, or anything, for that matter, could you please remember to give us (I’m sure you have TONS of readers in America) amounts in U. S. dollars? Thanks! I am married to a man from Germany, I live five minutes from Mexico…I am not an idiot about currency conversions..I just don’t keep an up-to-date conversion table in my head.

  • Terri
    January 28, 2010 3:46pm

    Thanks David . . . sounds like a 8″ or 9″ square will be too large for this recipe.

  • January 28, 2010 3:51pm

    Terri: You could double the recipe and use a larger pan. Just be sure to use a large pot, to contain all the caramel.

    Madeleine: Because of the wide variety of people who read the site, it’s impossible for me to take care of all the details that I’d like to and I do hope that readers understand.

    Since the prices I pay for things are in euros, and since the dollar equivalent varies often, I write what I paid. If I print the current dollar (or other) equivalent, it’s likely to change dramatically, as it has over the past 5 years. That won’t be helpful to readers who are visiting the post in the future. And with nearly a thousand entries on the site, I can’t go back and revisit them as much as I’d like to.

    Google has an excellent currency converter and folks can just enter the amounts, and hit “search”, and the dollar (or another) currency will instantly come up.

  • January 28, 2010 4:20pm

    Aaah, salted butter caramel.

    Last winter, Starbucks sold three varieties of gourmet hot chocolate, one of which was Salted Butter Caramel. The chocolate had a hint of caramel syrup, then whipped cream, then caramel drizzled on top with a few grains of salt for good measure. It was pure, decadent heaven. They didn’t bring it back this winter and it is sorely missed. Thanks for the culinary memory recall.

  • January 28, 2010 5:12pm

    Those look awesome!!! I would think those caramels are a little firmer than usual, if you bring it up to 260F. I recently made a chocolate caramels (stopped at 248). The recipe calls for corn syrup and honey, and I subbed agave nectar for the honey which worked great. Feel free to check out my post at:

  • January 28, 2010 5:15pm

    Oops… I meant to say 248 degrees, not 248 caramels :o)

  • Twinkleberry
    January 28, 2010 5:44pm

    Ah, I think I have landed in cyber heaven – how happy am I to have found your blog!

  • Mat
    January 28, 2010 6:01pm

    Did them again tonight. David, you were right – all the thermometers were a bit off (water boiling at 96 oC). So I adjusted. Humidity in the room was 60% RH, so normal. Caramels came out much softer than yesterday but still not what I would call soft. They are chewy and stick to the teeth. Probably not how it should be, right?
    Is the end temperature the only (most) important? Should I just drop it a bit more to get the perfect result? My wish is to have a caramel that you can bite through with one bite and have no sticking to the teeth…

  • January 28, 2010 6:54pm

    These look absolutely amazing! I am so inspired by your work and journey!
    Thanks for all you do to delight us!! Best, Constance

  • Stuart
    January 28, 2010 8:01pm

    Hey David,

    Not sure if you frequent eGullet, but there’s a thread there where people have been trying to reverse-engineer the Genin caramels.
    Apparently they’ve achieved a pretty close result for the salted caramels. Thought it might interest you to have a look…

    This recipe you’ve given looks great too, and without the need for the other special ingredients :)

  • Carrie
    January 28, 2010 10:10pm

    What a lovely recipe-so excited to try it and thanks for the tip about cutting the caramels! I used to work at SLT in SF and remember when you came down into the basement inquiring about instructor opportunities so long ago. How fun it has been and continues to be to read about your adventures, in the kitchen and out of it as well.

  • January 28, 2010 11:12pm

    These look so good! I hope you do open your candy store someday, but you will have to have a North American outlet.

  • Anne
    January 29, 2010 2:09am

    What type of sugar do you use David? I have got scales, so I can weigh it, but I’m wondering which you used for flavour reasons.

  • January 29, 2010 3:01am

    Anne: I use sucre cristal.

    Carrie: Yes, it was fun teaching at Sur La Table. Which gave me the unique opportunity to get first dibs on the sale rack!

    Stuart: Thanks for that thread. Jacques’ caramels are quite soft, but are usually kept in the refrigerator. Next time I go in, I’m going to ask him. But like most professional caramels, he likely uses a high amount of glucose, and/or another invert sugar. I know people are not keen to use corn syrup, and the two alternatives I gave will produce good caramels that don’t need to be refrigerated.

    Hanaa & Mat: This recipe is cooked to 260º, but when the butter is added at the end, it drops the temperature so the caramels aren’t too hard. I was thinking of experimenting with adding more butter at the end, both for the flavor and texture, but after my experiment with the high-fat crème fraîche, I opted against it.

  • esther
    January 29, 2010 4:58am

    Your pictures and text just make me want to move to France immediately! The butter! The cream!

  • January 29, 2010 10:49am

    Good gracious! This is serious stuff. Soul-swapping for caramels! That must be some kind of treat….I would love to have a homemade candy store, but I agree, probably not enough demand. But, I love the thoughts of it!

  • January 29, 2010 11:32am

    I saw your post about Jacques Genin! He is everything you said!
    Next time try the mango caramels if you haven’t yet!

  • Maureen in Austin
    January 29, 2010 9:01pm

    I suspect, David, that if I actually set out to make caramel sauce for ice cream that I might actually end up with caramels. That would make me an unintentionally ironic cook.
    But I did have a serious question to ask just to satisfy my curiosity…
    Is Valentine’s Day a big deal in the City of Love? Does your shop have its biggest sales time then?

  • January 29, 2010 10:29pm

    I love salted caramels; I remember my dad making one batch when I was a kid… we had to clean the marble table to make sure we could cool the caramels and cut them fast enough… Never tried to make candies myself. It seems really intimidating…

  • Laura
    January 30, 2010 3:34pm

    Just made them- they are perfection itself! Thank you so much.

  • Sigrid
    January 31, 2010 12:56pm

    Made them yesterday and had great success with very picky (French!) gourmets today. They were just perfect. I’m thinking of reducing the amount of butter by just a tiny little bit because the caramels were almost like good old epoisse, texture-wise.

    Or I could just wrap them in cellofane, true.

    And now that I’m hooked I’ll try to find a recipe with added fruit-flavour like the petit-fours they give you at Le Cinq.

    By the way: Your Granola-recipe was just heaven. I gave it (the Granola) away as christmas-presents and got lots of new orders. You do know that one day you will have to pay for our gastric-bypass-surgery, don’t you?

  • Haley
    January 31, 2010 3:49pm

    My unfirmed caramel went down the garbage disposal today. It had separated into two layers, the top one stretchy and white-ish, and the bottom clear, runny caramel. Not sure what happened. I was using organic cane sugar, but it was refined, so I didn’t anticipate any problems. Maybe I should try again with the usual white sugar?