Homemade caramels make the absolute best holiday gift. I know, I know, Autumn isn’t even officially here yet. But Labor Day has come and gone and the mornings are just a bit crisper, so I think we’re in the clear to start talking about holiday gifts, no? Even if you’re not ready to whip out the footed PJs, we can all get on board with making caramels. Plus, it gives us more time to practice (and by that I mean taste-test) our recipe before gift-giving season begins!
When I first starting baking I was both fascinated and terrified of making caramel. It needs to be heated to a precise temperature depending on what consistency you’re going for, which requires an oh-so-scary candy thermometer. If you’re a caramel-making beginner, then I’m sure you can relate! After I built up the nerve to try my hand at making caramels though, I realized how simple it really is – and I’m always amazed that a simple mixture of sugar and cream can create anything from a decadent sauce to chewy candies.
So, today I’m here with a delicious espresso pecan caramel recipe to help you conquer that fear of the candy thermometer!
Espresso Pecan Caramels
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tbsp instant espresso powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- ½ cup corn syrup or honey
- ½ cup unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch chunks plus more for pan
- ½ cup Diamond of California® Chopped Pecans
- Grease an 8” by 8” pan with butter then line it with parchment paper, taking care to leave a small an overhang of parchment on each side of the pan. Set Aside.
- Measure out ½ cup of pecans and set them aside. You’ll need easy access to these in a few steps!
- In a small saucepan, combine the heavy cream, espresso powder and vanilla extract. Stir over medium heat until espresso powder dissolves and cream comes to a light simmer. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Put the sugar and corn syrup in a large pot (grab one that looks like it’s too large, your caramel will start to bubble up as it cooks!) Stir over high heat just until the sugar dissolves, then allow the mixture to cook until it turns a dark amber color without stirring. If you need to, shake the pot gently to prevent one side from burning too quickly.
- Once the mixture reaches the desired color, quickly whisk in all of the butter. When the butter is incorporated, pour your cream mixture in, whisking constantly. Be careful at this stage, the caramel will bubble as you add the butter and cream.
- Next, pop a candy thermometer into your caramel pot and return it to high heat. Allow the caramel to cook, continuing to whisk constantly, until the thermometer reaches 242 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove from heat and quickly stir in the pecans. Pour the hot mixture into the prepared pan. Allow the caramel to set at room temperature for at least one hour (or in the fridge for 30 minutes) then use a large, sharp knife to cut it into one or two inch pieces. Wrap each piece in wax paper.