Chocolate Caramels

January 27, 2015
4.3 Stars
Photo by Erin McDowell
Author Notes

Adapted from Martha Stewart. Deliciously creamy, perfectly chewy, and intensely chocolatey -- these caramels have got it goin' on. —Erin Jeanne McDowell

  • Makes a TON of caramels (about 100)
  • 4 cups heavy cream, divided
  • 2 1/2 cups light corn syrup
  • 4 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more for sprinkling as desired
  • 10 ounces high quality bittersweet chocolate (30 to 40%)
  • 8 ounces high quality very dark chocolate (70 to 80%)
  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
In This Recipe
  1. Line a 12 x 16-inch baking pan with a Silpat or parchment paper and spray generously with nonstick spray. Place the pan in a spot that is easily accessible, but where it will not be moved (the caramel will wrinkle if you move it before it has cooled completely).
  2. In a large pot, combine 2 cups of the cream with the corn syrup, sugar, and salt (be sure to use a large pot -- cream has a tendency to boil over!). Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pot (an infrared laser thermometer is pretty great, too), and bring it to a boil -- stirring occasionally -- over medium heat. Wash down the sides of the pot as needed with a pastry brush dipped into tepid water.
  3. Cook, stirring constantly, until the temperature reads 220° F on the thermometer. Continue stirring, and add the chocolate and butter (you may need to adjust the temperature to keep it at a rolling boil). Once the mixture has returned to a boil, gradually add the remaining 2 cups cream.
  4. Continue to boil, stirring constantly, until the temperature reads 240 to 245° F on the thermometer. Stir in the vanilla.
  5. Pour the caramel into the prepared pan (garnish with a sprinkling of additional salt, if using) and let sit -- undisturbed and uncovered -- for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.
  6. When the caramel has cooled completely, spray a cutting board and knife with nonstick spray. Unmold the caramels onto the cutting board, and peel away the Silpat or parchment paper. Cut into rectangles or squares. Wrap in wax paper or parchment and store in a cool, dry place.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • LeBec Fin
    LeBec Fin
  • Kelli Heidtmann
    Kelli Heidtmann
  • JoAnna Arnold
    JoAnna Arnold
  • Dona
  • Randi
I always have three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's wrapped in a pastry crust. My newest cookbook, The Book on Pie, is out on November 10th, 2020.

24 Reviews

Caroline April 24, 2021
I made these yesterday, halving the recipe, and it was my first time making any kind of caramel that isn’t a sauce. They came out perfectly. Based on the comments, I cooked to 245 F and that was perfect. I was thrown off by the description of semi-sweet chocolate at 30-40% cocoa solids, which I uniformly see listed as milk chocolate. Semi-sweet is 50-65ish% and bittersweet is 70-85ish%. I hedged my bets and used 3 oz 34% (milk), 2 oz 60% (semi), and 4 oz 82% (bitter). For anyone who makes these I would recommend semi-sweet and bittersweet based on the cocoa solid percentages as noted above. The milk chocolate made the flavor more mild/less chocolatey. Other than that confusion this recipe was well written, easy to follow, and was a complete success!
brown May 2, 2020
just made this the other day, the best ever!! couldn't stop eating it while I wrapped it. Took it to work, it was gone in a flash, everyone loved it. Making it again today. couple points in the recipe to stress: usually when I made caramels, I don't stir after it comes to a boil, I did follow the constant stir instructions here. I think the chocolate would make it burn on the bottom too much otherwise as I already had a slight burned coat on the bottom. I did take it to 248 degrees, like I do on my usual caramels, that worked out fine for me. After is cooled slightly, I sprinkled generously with flaked salt and cut the next day. It's a lot of chocolate!! It tastes sooo great!!
Connie M. May 2, 2020
thanks for the tips! my 1st batch came out rock hard and then I backed off a bit and cooked till 240 at the bottom range and it was too soft. I will try 248. thank you for the tips. I have made a orange cream, earl gray, salted caramel and black licorice flavors. they are all so delicious. my friends and family can't get enough of it. I can't wait to add chocolate to my menu of caramels.
Connie M. April 9, 2020
the flavor of the caramels are delicious. my last chocolate caramel attempt turned to rock, therefore, I was a little hesitant in cooking until 245 degrees. I immediately took it off the stove at 240. it was a bit soft. next time I will cook to 243-245. any others deal with this. also, I sprayed my parchment paper quite heavily and it still stuck a bit. had to refrigerate a bit before cutting. that worked like a charm. next time I think I will use only 70% chocolate for a more intense chocolate flavor. any tips on cooking temp would be welcomed. thanks so much. thank you for the recipe. :)
LeBec F. December 12, 2016
no , that is more semi sweet's range iirc.
KC December 11, 2016
Wouldn'yt bittersweet chocolate be in the 56-60% range? I sure hope someone is out there, as all the other comments are from 2 years ago. I have never see chocolate in the 30 to 40% range.
Randi December 11, 2016
I'm with you in this one, looking at a bag of Ghirardelli bittersweet chips that are 60%.
Chrissie V. December 18, 2016
I think these are high quality candy bars, not baking chocolate, that they are using in this recipe.
Sara December 18, 2017
Peter's dark coveture is in this range. This is a standard, all-purpose dark chocolate. Callebaut makes a work horse chocolate in this range as well.
amanda H. February 17, 2015
Please stop using cups!!! Or at least put grams as well, it is so much more accurate. Please thank you
ShopTherapy February 9, 2015
I started making caramels for holiday gifts last year after years of making peanut brittle. As this article says, the stirring is exactly opposite for these two candies - constant after peanut brittle comes to a boil, none once caramel boils. However, it takes much longer for caramel to reach 250 than for peanut brittle to reach 300 on the candy thermometer. It might be helpful for readers if you addressed the effect of different types of cream - light vs. heavy vs. whipping.
Author Comment
Erin J. February 15, 2015
First I would suggest testing the accuracy of your thermometer-leave it in ice water for 15 minutes and make sure it accurately reads 32 degrees Fahrenheit. If your thermometer has the ability to be adjusted manually, do so. If your thermometer reads accurately, then try cooking to 235 degrees instead. Also remember that even a hair over 240 can be a big difference-caramel "carries over" for a few minutes just like steak! Hope that's helpful.
Kelli H. February 8, 2015
can this recipe be reduced?
i am nervous about messing it up and would like to try a smaller batch
Author Comment
Erin J. February 15, 2015
Yes absolutely, just use an 8x8 pan.
JoAnna A. February 8, 2015
I am thinking about using glucose instead of corn syrup for this recipe. Would this work just as well if not better than the corn syrup?
Author Comment
Erin J. February 8, 2015
Yes!!!! Glucose is wonderful, just not as readily available! It will work beautifully!
gmd1228 February 6, 2015
Could i halve the recipe and still use the same size pan to cool the caramel in? Or will it affect the way it cools and the final texture?
Author Comment
Erin J. February 8, 2015
I would use a smaller pan (8x8 or 9x9) because otherwise the caramels will be very thin.
Dona February 6, 2015
What size pot do you use? I make a smaller batch of caramels in a 4 quart pan and it bubbles furiously, as it's supposed to. Will a 4 qt pan be big enough?
Author Comment
Erin J. February 6, 2015
I used a big soup pot so I didn't worry about it bubbling over-probably 6-7 qt-ish!
Dottie T. October 26, 2018
Erin, can foods more healthy be substituted?? Thank you

LeBec F. February 5, 2015
p.s. i should have begun by saying how psyched i am to see this recipe of yours! th you.
LeBec F. February 5, 2015
erin, plse tell us how you came out with your dark/bittersweet chocolate ratio. Did you try other combinations, with a higher % of dark chocolate? I ask because i have tried adapting another chocolate caramels recipe- and only using 70% dark chocolate ,and the mixture separated both times. IIRC it was a 52er who said i couldn't successfully use that high a %. Thx much.
Author Comment
Erin J. February 5, 2015
Hi LBF, yes, I tried a few combinations before landing on this one. This particular caramel recipe is very stable because of the large amount of corn syrup in it (check out my article that accompanies this recipe, posting tomorrow around noon, about why precisely that is). The syrup itself is very stable, so we can add a decent amount of chocolate. I found that this combo was best for a deep chocolate flavor, but also for it's buttery, rich texture - they are SO smooth, and they don't stick to your teeth.