I’ve made so many variations of caramels that it’s about time that I experiment with beer caramels. Typically, the smell and flavor of beer is a bit too strong for my taste, so I started out conservatively by using a pale ale with a somewhat intimidating name and label (New Belgium Voodoo Ranger) but seemingly less aggressive flavors of citrus and tropical fruit from eight hops and low bitterness. The end result was a caramel with a hint of citrus and fruitiness and a slight dryness in taste. You can definitely taste the beer, especially at the end, but the caramel flavor still shines through. I layered mini pretzels on top since I’ve been told that pretzels go well with beer, and they provide a good textural contrast and a bit of saltiness.
Beer & Pretzels Caramels
Makes 80 pieces of caramel (depending on size. I like to cut them small as these are packed with flavor)
2 cups brown sugar
2 sticks butter
1 cup corn syrup
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 12 oz. bottle of your favorite beer (pale ales work well)
Pretzels (I used mini pretzels)
- Line a 9×13 inch pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large saucepan with high sides, melt butter and brown sugar over medium heat until well combined.
- Slowly add beer and corn syrup, and stir well.
- Add the sweetened condensed milk, and keep stirring constantly. Be careful as the mixture will bubble up quite a bit.
- Cook caramels to 244-246°F. This can take up to 20-30 minutes. Do not stop stirring once the sweetened condensed milk is added or the caramel will burn.
- Once the caramel reaches you reach 244-246°F, remove it from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
- Pour the caramel into the prepared pan.
- Sprinkle a light layer of sea salt on top of hot caramels. Use less sea salt if you’re also including salted pretzels.
- Lay the pretzels on top of the warm caramel.
- Let the caramel set until firm enough to cut. I used the refrigerator to help speed up the cooling process.