This is one of my favorite caramel recipes because you don’t have to use a candy thermometer. Total cooking time is about 7 minutes in the microwave (as opposed to 20 + on the stovetop) and after a short chill in the refrigerator, they’re ready to be cut and wrapped. This is a great recipe for busy holiday cooks.
Sea salt is the ultimate complement to this caramel. I use coarse Celtic grey sea saltto finish this candy because it’s beautiful and makes the candy taste like it’s been kissed by a mermaid.
Wrap these up in waxed paper because they are rather soft at room temperature. A few pieces wrapped up in a culinary scallop shellmakes a beautiful little gift, especially if you opt to use the coarse sea salt.
Edit 12/2017: Each year when I post this recipe on social media, it gets a great number of positive reviews and always a couple of fails. This is the nature and gamble of microwave candy-making. I’ve learned a few things from making this recipe over the past few years and I want to update my findings.
1. If, after all the cooking is done, your batch of caramel looks grainy, then cook it a little longer at 1 minute intervals. “Grainy” meaning you can visibly see sugar grains in the mixture. Ideally you’re going for a smooth, thick appearance.
2. If your mixture looks curdled after cooking, then the batch has been over-cooked. However! Even with the curdled appearance the candy should set. “Curdled” meaning lumpy or masses of cooked candy floating in the caramel. I’ve made several batches like this, and after the candy sets and is cut into pieces, you can’t tell it was ever overcooked. When set, overcooked caramel will be chewier like a manufactured caramel (like those little wrapped Kraft squares).
Microwave Grey Sea Salt Caramels
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter cut into cubes
- 1 cup light brown sugar tightly packed
- 1/2 cup corn syrup
- 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk not low fat
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Grey sea salt
- Lightly grease an 8×8 dish with vegetable shortening or butter and line the pan with parchment paper. Cut the paper long enough to overhang the two edges of the pan.
- In a large microwaveable bowl or 8 cup glass measure, combine the butter, brown sugar and corn syrup. Microwave at 100% power for 2 minutes.
- Stir mixture well. It will be a little grainy. Microwave for another 2 minutes, stir well.
- Add 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk. Microwave for 3 minutes. Watch carefully, it is prone to bubble up at this stage. If it starts to bubble over, open the microwave door intermittently so that the mixture will sink down and not bubble over.
- Remove from microwave and stir in vanilla extract. Be very careful at this stage, the caramel is extremely hot and sticky!
- Pour hot caramel into the parchment lined pan.
- Lightly sprinkle with grey sea salt.
- Let stand until set, or speed setting with refrigeration. Lift caramel block from pan and cut into individual squares.
- Wrap the caramel pieces in waxed paper squares.