Serves a Crowd


December 11, 2009
0 Ratings
  • Makes about 250
Author Notes

For the last decade, I have been making caramels as a holiday gift for friends and family. They have a rabid following. This year, I decided to develop a couple of new flavors: a vanilla version with cardamom and this chocolate one infused with chile. Top quality ingredients make a difference here, as does a hit of espresso to punch up the chocolate flavor. I wrap each one in foiled or wax paper and pack them in small kraft boxes tied with a ribbon. (An elf comes in handy!) —gluttonforlife

What You'll Need
  • 4 cups heavy cream
  • 6 dried chiles de árbol (or substitute 2-3 teaspoons red chile flakes)
  • 4 cups chile-infused heavy cream
  • 2 1/2 cups light corn syrup
  • 4 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso, dissolved in 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 1 pound plus 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped in small pieces
  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
  • Textured sea salt, like Maldon or grey fleur de sel
  • Vegetable oil cooking spray
  2. Pour cream into a large saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Crumble in chiles de árbol (or red chile flakes) and gently simmer for 15 minutes. DO NOT BOIL.
  4. Remove from heat and allow to sit, covered, for 2 hours.
  5. Dip your finger in to test spiciness. You should feel a rather intense heat at the back of your throat. If not, infuse longer. When it has reached desired spiciness, strain thoroughly, discard chiles, and set cream aside.
  2. Spray an 11 3/4-by-16 1/4-inch baking pan with vegetable-oil spray. Set aside in a spot where it will not be moved.
  3. In a heavy 4-quart saucepan, combine 2 cups cream, corn syrup, sugar, and salt. Clip on candy thermometer. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, 15 to 20 minutes. Wash down sides of pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to remove any sugar crystals.
  4. Cook, stirring constantly, until temperature reaches 220 degrees, 6 to 8 minutes; watch so mixture doesn't boil over. Continue stirring, and add chocolate and butter. Keep mixture boiling, and slowly add remaining 2 cups cream and instant espresso. Cook, still stirring, until temperature reaches 245 degrees (firm-ball stage), about 60 minutes, keeping mixture at a low boil.
  5. Without scraping pot, pour mixture into prepared pan. After it has cooled slightly, about 15 minutes, sprinkle a thin layer of salt over the entire sheet, pressing very lightly to set salt into caramel. Let stand uncovered at room temperature for 24 hours without moving.
  6. To cut, unmold caramel, salt side up, onto wooden cutting board. Using a large, sharp knife, cut into 1 1/4-by-3/4” pieces, or whatever shape you like. Wrap each piece in foiled or waxed paper.
Contest Entries

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  • nora42
  • cheese1227
  • Food Blogga
    Food Blogga
  • TheWimpyVegetarian
  • gluttonforlife

14 Reviews

nora42 December 9, 2013
How do you wrap these for gifting?
gluttonforlife December 9, 2013
Waxed paper!
cheese1227 October 28, 2010
I am moving from pumpkin caramels to these! Or better yet, I will make both for the next time I am asked to bring a plate of sweets!
QueenOfGreen December 12, 2010
She did, and they were HEAVENLY! Thank you both!
Rivka December 13, 2010
Echoing queenofgreen, Christine made these for our cookie swap along with her pumpkin caramels; they are AMAZING. good work!
MrsWheelbarrow December 19, 2010
I have been hoarding the caramels Christine made for the cookie swap. I'm down to one caramel and now planning to make more tomorrow. These are seriously fabulous caramels.
licia_helgeson_mchardy October 28, 2010
Thank you for a beautiful simple, well written, easy to follow recipe. I got perfect results! I had some trouble infusing enough chili flavor to the cream,(I think my chilis were old). I heated some chili flakes in a frying pan until fragrant, then added them to the cream. Perfect! Why does it have to sit for 24 hours before cutting and wrapping?
gluttonforlife May 2, 2011
They need to firm up and set; otherwise they are too soft and sticky and hard to handle.
LisaCooks December 30, 2009
As a recipient, I can only say that these have changed my life!
Food B. December 23, 2009
Hi Laura! I have been trying to reach you about your generous offer of caramels. My email was returned for an invalid address. Would you pls email when you get a chance? Or you could leave me a DM on Twitter. Thanks!
TheWimpyVegetarian December 11, 2009
Oh my gosh, I'm with Food Blogga on this. I can be a really great friend! Seriously, love this recipe for caramels and would love to see your recipe for the caramels with the cardamon too if you would mind sharing it.
gluttonforlife December 16, 2009
OK, I'll definitely post it when I get a sec. They are divine!
Food B. December 11, 2009
Is there any chance we could become friends before Christmas so I can receive a box of your chile-infused caramels?
gluttonforlife December 16, 2009
If you send me your address, you just might get lucky...