Raise your hands if (1) you have ever tried to make caramel from scratch, (2) horribly burned said caramel, (3) cried while scraping burnt caramel/sugar from your favorite pot, and (4) became so traumatized or disheartened by the experience that the mere thought of trying again makes you feel jumpy and nervous. No? Me neither…nevermind.
Just kidding, that was totally me. I saw a recipe for caramel sauce a few years back and was all “psh, that looks super easy.” So I sauntered into my kitchen, dumped a bunch of sugar into a pot, turned on the stove, and waited for glory. At first, the sugar melted beautifully and turned into this gorgeous, thick amber liquid that made me feel pretty smug about my obvious natural affinity for cooking. I felt far less smug about 30 seconds later when I turned my back on the pot to grab some cream out of the fridge and turned back around to discover that my pot was now fully of super bubbly black tar. No amount of cream could fix it, and to add insult to injury, I burned my fingers trying to clean the gross mess out of my pot. I was devastated. No more adventures in caramel for Tina.
But lately caramels have been on my mind again. Mainly because my friend Sarah is a cooking genius who is capable of making caramel from scratch without burning everything, and she recently made a beautiful batch of salted honey lavendar caramels that she sent me for my birthday (along with some honey matcha flavored ones too)! They were super delicious, and reignited my desire to make my own caramels. Lucky for me, Cooking Classy recently posted a recipe on fool-proof microwave caramels. Caramel made in a microwave! In less than 7 minutes! And it was so easy! There was no burning! And the result was absolutely delicious (buttery, creamy, smooth and luscious)! I may never make caramel any other way again.
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- ½ cup light corn syrup
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup packed light-brown sugar
- ½ cup sweetened condensed milk
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¾ tsp vanilla extract
- Sea salt (optional)
- Butter an 8 by 8-inch baking dish. Line the dish with parchment paper (with overhang so that you can lift your caramel out in one piece), then butter or spray the paper with cooking spray.
- Place butter in a large microwave safe bowl and heat it in 30 second intervals your microwave until melted
- Add corn syrup, granulated sugar, brown sugar, sweetened condensed milk and salt to your bowl of melted butter, and whisk well.
- Return your bowl to the microwave and cook mixture on high power for 6 to 7 minutes (Cooking Classy recommended taking it out around 6 and testing either with a candy thermometer which should register between 238 - 242 degrees or placing a small spoon of the caramel in a bowl of ice water then remove it from the water and it should have formed a small pliable ball - nothing too soft or too hard. If it needs a little more time return to microwave and heat in 20 second increments.)
- Using oven mitts, carefully remove your bowl from microwave.
- Add vanilla extract to your bowl and mix well.
- Pour caramel mixture into your baking dish.
- Sprinkle sea salt on top, if desired.
- Place your dish in the fridge until set, about 30-40 minutes.
- Lift your caramel out of the dish using the parchment paper, and cut it into rectangular pieces with a sharp knife.
- Wrap each piece in rectangles of wax paper.
(Barely adapted from Cooking Classy’s recipe)