If you feel like you’ve tasted all that caramels have to offer, then it’s time to try flavored caramels. These soft and chewy root beer honey caramels don’t take any extra effort to make, other than substituting the usual vanilla extract with root beer extract. The root beer flavor is smooth, creamy, and evokes the flavors of a root beer float.
The directions specify NOT to scrape the bottom of the pan of cooked caramel. But, you can gather up all the remaining caramel on the sides and bottom of the pan and eat that off the spoon. Just make sure to cool the caramel a little so you don’t burn your tongue.
Root Beer Honey Caramels
(Adapted from Fine Cooking)
Makes about 80 1-inch-square-caramels.
1 2/3 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon root beer extract (I like Zatarain’s Root Beer Concentrate) or pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 1/2 ounces. (1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons) honey
1 1/2 ounces. (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 3 pieces
1/2 teaspoon table salt
- Line an 8×8 inch baking pan (for thicker caramel pieces) or a 9×13 quarter sheet pan (for thinner caramel pieces) with parchment paper. Make sure the parchment goes up the sides of the pan. Don’t worry if the parchment lifts up from the pan a bit as the weight of the caramel will push it back down.
- In a small saucepan, heat the cream with the root beer extract (or vanilla extra, if you’re using that instead) over medium heat until it comes to a simmer. Reduce the heat to very low and keep the cream warm.
- Heat the sugar with the honey in a 4 quart or larger saucepan over medium/high heat, stirring occasionally with a longhandled wooden spoon, until the sugar is mostly dissolved and it starts to boil, 4 to 8 minutes. Stop stirring and brush down the sides of the pot with a clean pastry brush dipped in water to dissolve any clinging sugar crystals.
- Clip a candy thermometer to the pot and let the mixture boil, without disturbing the bubbling sugar, until it reaches 305°F, about 5 minutes.
- Rinse any sugar residue off your spoon and dry it with a towel.
- Add the 3 tablespoons of butter and the salt. Slowly stir in the warm cream. Be careful as the mixture will boil furiously and bubble up considerably as soon as you begin adding the cream. The addition of the cream will cause the temperature of the mixture to drop.
- Continue stirring, watching the thermometer closely, until the temperature reaches 250°F (The honey makes these caramels especially soft, so even if you cook them to 250°F, they will eventually harden up a little but still remain soft). Take the pan off the heat.
- Immediately pour the hot caramel into the prepared pan. Do not scrape the pot. What sticks to the pot should stay in the pot.
- Set the pan on a rack to cool. Don’t disturb the pan until the caramel is fully cool and set, at least 5 hours, but preferably overnight. If you want to speed up the cooling/firming process, you can refrigerate the pan of caramel after it has cooled down a bit and is only slightly warm.
- After the caramel has firmed up, remove the caramel from the pan while still on the parchment paper. With a heavy, large knife, cut the caramel into 1-inch squares, and wrap them in cellophane, parchment, or wax paper. Once cut, the caramels will slowly lose their shape, so it’s important to wrap them as soon as possible.
Note: The wrapped caramels will keep for about four weeks if stored in an airtight container at room temperature. I store mine in the refrigerator and they stay fresh even longer, although they often get eaten before then.
Click here for more info on my favorite caramel making tools.