Everyday Food Blog

the search for coffee caramels

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Every year I make a batch of sweets—brittle, toffee, cookies—to keep on hand during the holidays. That way I'm covered whenever I need a hostess gift, or a friend drops by and I want to give them a little something, or the UPS guy is at our door at 9pm on Christmas Eve and needs a treat. This year I got it in my head to make coffee caramels, inspired in some subconscious way, by the coffee-flavored Nips candy, which I love. But finding a recipe proved elusive. I was moaning about my inability to find a good recipe when a couple of the gals from Living recommended I make Jen's gingerbread caramels without the spices, and using honey in place of molasses. We debated whether to use instant espresso powder or coffee extract, and settled on the extract. I used 1 tablespoon. They were gorgeous and delicious, with just enough coffee flavor (for a richer brew, add an extra teaspoon of extract). Make sure to choose a VERY large pot for making these, as the mixture foams up vigorously during cooking. And if I had to do it all over again, I would have sprinkled the top with a mixture of crushed coffee beans and coarse salt right after pouring the mixture into the pan, just for a little more coffee flavor and fun. But they were great just as is, with the perfect amount of stretchy chew. Wrapping the caramels individually was tedious, since they yielded more than 12 dozen (cue up some dance tracks to get through that part), but I had hostess gifts by the mile.

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Assemble all of your ingredients before starting. Molten caramel doesn't wait!

1 Assemble all of your ingredients before starting. Molten caramel doesn't wait!

A greased pan, lined with parchment, with the parchment also greased.

2 A greased pan, lined with parchment, with the parchment also greased.

Choose your largest pot for making the caramel. The liquid bubbles up and increases in volume dramatically during cooking.

3 Choose your largest pot for making the caramel. The liquid bubbles up and increases in volume dramatically during cooking.

The caramel begins to turn amber as the temperature approaches 248 degrees.

4 The caramel begins to turn amber as the temperature approaches 248 degrees.

Quickly adding salt, vanilla . . .

5 Quickly adding salt, vanilla . . .

and coffee extract (the secret ingredient).

6 and coffee extract (the secret ingredient).

You need a heatproof spatula to stir everything together quickly.

7 You need a heatproof spatula to stir everything together quickly.

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9

Use caution while pouring the caramel into the pan.

10 Use caution while pouring the caramel into the pan.

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Peeling back the parchment after inverting the caramels onto a greased cutting board.

13 Peeling back the parchment after inverting the caramels onto a greased cutting board.

Cutting the caramels goes easier if you coat your knife with nonstick spray first.

14 Cutting the caramels goes easier if you coat your knife with nonstick spray first.

All wrapped up and ready to go!

15 All wrapped up and ready to go!

Coffee Caramels

Makes about 12 1/2 dozen

4 cups (2 pints) heavy cream

2 cups light corn syrup

4 cups granulated sugar

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1/2 cup honey

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon coffee extract

3/4 teaspoon coarse salt

Vegetable-oil cooking spray

1. Lightly coat a 12-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Line with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on short sides; spray paper.

2. In a very large pot (8 quart) over medium-high heat, bring cream, corn syrup, sugar, butter, and honey to a boil, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Continue to cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until mixture reaches 248 degrees (firm-ball stage) on a candy thermometer, about 20 minutes.

3. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla, coffee extract, and spices. Quickly stir with a heat-proof spatula until mixture is homogenous, then pour onto prepared sheet. Let stand, uncovered, 24 hours at room temperature (do not move pan).

4. Generously coat a large cutting board with cooking spray. Lifting it by the parchment overhang, invert caramel onto the cutting board; use a sharp knife to loosen parchment, and remove. Cut into 1-by-1 1/4-inch pieces. Wrap each in cellophane or waxed paper. Caramels can be stored up to 1 month in airtight containers.

Comments (5)

  • avatar

    Yum! I made sea salt caramels for the first time this Christmas. It was a big payoff for not much cost and effort. I agree that the wrapping was the most tedious -- perhaps next time I'll bribe some helpers!

  • avatar

    I must learn to make these, as coffee caramels are one of my very favorite candies! Also, this does sound like a fantastic hostess gift and a unique addition to sweets boxes and baskets.

  • avatar

    Hi, I'm from Portugal and I'm not sure I can find corn syrup in here.. Can I substitute it by somethins else? Thanks

  • avatar Author Comment:

    In a pinch, you can use honey.

  • avatar

    I used course ground coffee beans to infuse the cream instead of using coffee extract. It turned out really well. I loved seeing the tiny flecks of coffee grounds in the carmels. I have a few other ideas for infusing the cream with other flavors and this recipe will be just the perfect base. Thanks, totally love these!

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