Vanilla Bean Caramels

This weekend was an honest to goodness baking marathon for me.  I baked for nearly two days straight with very little sleep.  But finally I’m sitting down, and I just couldn’t wait to tell you about these caramels.  They may not be the snazziest of holiday treats, but in my book it just doesn’t get much better than really good caramels.  These sweet, chewy candies have flecks of vanilla bean throughout and a touch of fleur de sel that almost sparkles on top.

I think candy making is such fun – there is just something so gratifying about making your own caramels.  It really doesn’t require much effort, just some patience and a candy thermometer.  In fact, I pull up a barstool to the stove, grab a good book and sit reading next to the stove, monitoring and stirring occasionally while the sugar works its magic.  I think anyone would be thrilled to receive these as a holiday gift.  And I’m thrilled to have a few left over to enjoy myself 🙂

Side note – My series of holiday giveaways is starting today on the Facebook page.  Details will be posted before 7 am.  Enter to win a copy of Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes!

Vanilla Bean Caramels with Fleur de Sel
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Yield: 64 caramels
1 cup heavy cream
5 tbsp. unsalted butter
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean pod, split lengthwise and scraped
1¼ tsp. fleur de sel, plus more for sprinkling
1½ cups sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup
¼ cup water

Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking dish with parchment paper.  Lightly butter the parchment.

In a small saucepan, combine the cream, butter, vanilla extract, vanilla bean seeds, pods, and fleur de sel.  Heat over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water.  Heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved.  Boil, without stirring but gently swirling the pan occasionally, until the mixture is a light golden caramel color.

Remove the vanilla bean pods from the cream mixture and carefully stir the cream mixture into the caramel – the mixture will bubble up, so pour slowly and stir constantly.  Continue simmering the mixture until it registers 248˚ F on a candy thermometer.  Immediately remove from the heat and pour into the prepared pan.  Let cool for 30 minutes, then sprinkle lightly with additional fleur de sel.  Continue to let sit until completely set and cooled.  Cut into 1-inch pieces (a buttered pizza cutter works well).  Wrap the individual caramels in small pieces of wax paper, about 4-inch squares.

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

49 Responses

  1. looks so yum,..;-)

  2. These look so good!! Where do you get your Vanilla Beans from?

  3. These look perfect. I’ve never made caramels before and have always wanted to!

  4. Delicious! Holiday baking is all about the candy to us…we’d love to have bowls of these fabulous caramels all over the house!

  5. Yum, indeed! These are on my list to make this year as well!

  6. These look delicious! I have been candy making at my house too. I can’t stop – it is delightful. And the end result are bite sized pieces of deliciousness. Great job on the caramels. They look beautiful! – Megan

  7. those are beautiful caramels! i’ve had baking marathons a few times myself around the holidays – although i get very little sleep, i always enjoy baking, baking, baking! 🙂

  8. Annie, we don’t have easy access to fleur de sel in our area. I know I can order it online, but if I’m in a crunch would you use sea salt for (inside) the caramels & then just omit the sprinkle on top?? I’ve read the taste difference is noticeable.

    • Honestly, I’m not sure. I would maybe try reading online and see if you find good info. I always have fleur de sel around so I haven’t tried any subs.

  9. These caramels look delicious and perfect for little holiday gifts! I had myself a baking marathon this weekend as well and it is exhausting! Thanks for sharing these treats.

  10. I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one who partakes in marathon baking during the holidays – I am actually planning to start tomorrow!

  11. Looks delicious and easy! I’ll definitely have to try this recipe. I enjoy making candy as well. One of my favorite things to make is fudge. So fun!

  12. DROOL!

  13. These are one of the treats I planned adding to my goodie Christmas bag although with a hint of honey. Sure these are to please any one 🙂

  14. Mmmmmmm. I think I might try these. Where do I buy the fleur de sel? Is it next to regular salt?

  15. The caramels look great and so inviting, but they are one thing that I have to stay away from….
    They would definitely make a great gift.

  16. OH BOY…these look SOOO good….I think I’ll be making these since carmels weren’t originally on my baking list.

  17. Can I use high quality vanilla bean paste instead of a vanilla bean?

  18. Those look lovely. I had a baking marathon yesterday and I am trying to gear up to have a candy making marathon today! Then… Im done! (Well except planning my Christmas dinner).

  19. Fabulous! I have two beans I need to use.

    How did you get the angled edges like that? Did you hold the pizza cutter at an angle and inverse them on each pass?

    • I didn’t do anything to get angled edges – they were actually pretty straight. It may just be the photo that makes them appear angled, or the natural pressure from cutting. I just cut straight edges.

  20. Oh, these look so delicious. I’m afraid I’d eat each one of them though.

  21. These look amazing! Homemade caramels are my favorite… I’m making a goal to try my hand at these!

  22. I have been baking non-stop too! The people I work with love it. I can’t wait to try these.

  23. Wonderful…how did you cut them so nice and neat? Mine always turn out goofy looking!

  24. Anyone have suggestions on where to get good vanilla beans? I have bought from Whole Foods and Williams-Sonoma, but they are spendy…

  25. Just made these! They are soooo yummy! I think I will have to make another recipe or two of these. My kids are begging me to make some for their teachers.

  26. Yum, so delicate and gorgeous!

  27. I’m going to make these for my brothers whom I will see next week. How far in advance can these be made before they get too chewy or something?

    • I don’t know an exact timeframe but I would imagine they keep quite a while. They are supposed to be chewy, after all.

  28. I made these yesterday…wow is all I can say. My candy thermometer took a tumble, so I had to go by the water test. I miss judged it a bit, and didn’t cook it long enough…so it was a tad soft, so I have to keep it chilled. But they were still amazing. I am going to be making again for our Christmas eve party.

  29. I made these tonight to put into a goodie bag for my daughter’s teacher. They are so delish! I couldn’t even wait for them to cool! 🙂 I didn’t have any fleur de sal so I used this great Hawaiian sea salt and it is amazing. I also make my own vanilla extract, so I used the bean that was in that, even with my few alterations I know I will be making these again soon. Thanks so much for the recipe and inspiration!

  30. These look fabulous! How fun. I have found high quality fleur de sel and vanilla beans for unbelievably great prices at Costco.

  31. I drool over your posts all the time and have made a few recipes but this recipe was so good I had to share in my first post! Totally last minute I decided to make these as teacher gifts and wow, they turned out great! I have never made candy or any recipe even similar to this. I actually have never bought a vanilla bean before! But I did it and they sure are tasty. I did sub sea salt for the fancy salt and they turned out fine. I think I’m going to finish one of the two batches with some drizzled chocolate. Thanks for sharing this awesome recipe!!

  32. I made these today, but unfortunately they turned out hard and brittle- very difficult to cut. I think I overcooked it somewhere, but I’m just not sure at what stage?
    At least they still taste delicious!

    • It sounds like the sugar mixture just got a bit overcooked. If you used a thermometer, it may be off, so next time I would aim for a few degrees lower.

  33. Annie, made these today and mine are rock hard? Can’t even cut into them….I stopped cooking at 248 degrees? Any ideas what I did wrong?

  34. I made these last night. It was my first attempt at candy-making, and I’m afraid I goofed somewhere. Mine turned out hard and I could barely cut them. Any suggestions?

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