Carmel is a village on the California coast. Caramel is a dreamy, buttery, creamy delicious candy.

Carmel = Village

Caramel = Candy

Care . uh. mel

End of lesson in pronunciation.

My family had a recipe for caramels when I was growing up that I absolutely loved. So, of course, when I became an adult, I decided caramels would be one of those things I always made for Christmas. The trouble with the recipe, though, was that it was extremely tempermental. The caramels would turn out different every single year. Sometimes, I’d overshoot the temperature a little and end up with something resembling toffee. Other times, I wouldn’t quite get there, and the caramels would only hold their shape if you kept them in the refrigerator. And let’s just not even discuss the batches I simply had to throw away.

I’m a traditionalist. I wanted to make the caramels from the recipe I’d meticulously copied from my mother’s recipe box, but even I can only take so much disappointment. So a few years ago, I asked the Google to cough up some caramel recipes. After a bit of trial and error, I finally ended up with one that seems (so far) to be foolproof.


  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk (the elixer of the gods)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Line an 8″ square baking dish with foil and generously butter it.

In a large, heavy saucepan (I use an enameled cast iron saucier) combine sugar, corn syrup and butter. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once it reaches a boil, let it cook for 4 minutes without stirring.

Remove from heat. Stir in condensed milk. Reduce heat to medium low and cook, stirring constantly, until a candy thermometer reaches 238°. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.

Pour into the prepared pan and allow to cool. Using the foil, lift the cooled caramel out of the baking dish. Discard the foil and cut into 1″ squares. Wrap in wax paper.

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