May 26, 2013

Exquisite & Easy Gourmet Salted Caramel (in your microwave!)


Real, homemade, buttery melt-in-your-mouth caramel is the stuff of my dreams.
A gourmet salted caramel is pure bliss in a single bite. 

I've been making caramels for years, but because of my impatient nature, I've always relished the product but loathed the process -- hovering over a bubbling pot of molten sugar, eyes glued to the candy thermometer. Here's a little poem I penned about the process. 

Making Caramel
bubble, bubble, bubble
Knock at the door.
Hello friend.
Come right in.
I'll be right back.
Caramel's on the stove.
270 degrees -- Soft Crack!
(but I was only gone 1 minute)
Back to the drawing board.
Oh Sugar!

So, when I read about a new way to make caramel in the microwave, I had to give it a go.  First batch was sensational --  Deep, rich caramel flavor, silky and smooth.  The fool-proof foundation enabled me to start experimenting with time and flavor to come up with the caramel of my dreams.  That's what I love so much about this recipe -- once you establish your base recipe (since every microwave is different), you can tweak the time to make the caramels just the way you like.

In my microwave, 15 minutes yields pure perfection.  Start with this formula, then adjust to your liking.

Microwave Method
Gourmet Salted Caramel
(adapted from

Cooking Time:  15 Minutes
Yield:  Approx. 100 caramels

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), plus 3 TB for buttering the pan)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons real vanilla extract 
  • Fine flake sea salt (my absolute favorite is Murray River Salt from Australia)
  • Wax paper, cut into 4" x 3" pieces

Prepare your pan by buttering the bottom and sides.  I use a 12x12 pan because it gives me the perfect height for the caramel (about 1/2").  Cut two pieces of parchment paper.  Line pan with the first piece.  Butter the parchment, then lay the second piece down in the opposite direction.  You'll want to cut the parchment long enough to overhang the sides of the pan.  This will make it easy to lift out later.  Butter bottom and sides of the parchment.

Step 1:  Place butter in a 2-3 quart bowl.  Microwave until just melted.  Add sugars, corn syrup and condensed milk.  Stir with a silicone spatula to combine.

Step 2:  Microwave for 3 minutes. 


Step 3:  Stir , then microwave for 3 minutes more.

Step 4:  Stir , then microwave for 3 minutes more.


Step 5:  Stir , then microwave for 3 minutes more.

Step 6:  Stir , then microwave for a final 3 minutes. (In my microwave, the caramel reaches 234 degrees F at the 15 minute mark).  Whisk in vanilla extract. 

Step 7:  Immediately pour the hot candy into the prepared pan.  Gently tap the pan on a flat surface to tap out any air bubbles.  Set aside in a cool place, elevated on a wire rack, to cool (approx. 3-4 hours depending on the temperature of the room).

Step 8:  When candy has cooled completely, lift out of the pan by the parchment.  Use a sharp buttered knife (I run my knife lengthwise through a stick of butter) to cut the caramel into 1" strips.  Sprinkle with sea salt.  Then, chop into 1/2" pieces.   

Step 9:  Wrap caramels by placing a caramel on a piece of wax paper (I use the regular stuff from the grocery store and cut it with my paper cutter to get perfect 4" x 3" pieces).  Place the caramel with the long side horizontal on the wax paper with the 4" side horizontal as well.  Roll, then twist the ends.  

This was my first batch.
This recipe is easy and marvelous, but bear in mind that your first batch will be experimental because every microwave is different.  You may need to add more time, or you may need less.  My first batch was softer than I would have liked, but still garnered oohs and ahhs from everyone who tasted it.  

Have fun and enjoy!

This post has been linked-up with
Sugar & Slice Sunday


  1. Wow, I need to try this. Tomorrow, I think :-)

  2. Yum! Definitely putting this at the top of my must-make list!

  3. Making caramel kind of scares me, but this looks pretty easy! We might attempt it!

  4. This is great!! I just have to try it. I make my own condensed milk and I do have some in the freezer.

  5. i definitely have to give this a would be so nice to be able to whip some up in a flash...and with pantry items (no keeping loads of cream on hand). thanks for sharing yet another great recipe!

  6. I must try this--it looks wonderful. Yeah for the microwave!

  7. This is my jam. I've always wanted to make candy but hated the double boiler thing!

  8. I am all over this! Thank you. When I have attempted making caramel on the stove it has been a disaster. Can't wait to try your method. Pinned!

  9. You make me sorry I gave up my microwave! Great recipe!

  10. I pinned this one! It looks wonderfully decadent.

  11. My faaaavorite! Yummmmm! Thanks for showing how to make it!

  12. Need caramel for dipped pretzel rods, will try this tomorrow

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. After the third 3 minute cooking the caramel boiled over the sides of my large glass Pyrex bowl. I cleaned up the microwave and scraped the caramel into another large glass bowl. I continued cooking it for another 3 minute time period. I then checked the temperature with my candy thermometer. It was ready so I poured it into my prepared pan. Its still cooling so I have no idea how its going to turn out. What a mess. Help!!

    1. Hi Joy, I'm so sorry to hear that the caramel bubbled over. The differences in microwave power from model to model definitely makes the first batch a matter of a little trial and error, but after that it should be smooth sailing. Next time you'll definitely want to use a larger bowl. It sounds like you should be in fine shape with this batch since the temperature on your thermometer read at the right point. If it comes out a little hard, you can soften the caramel block on very low power for small increments of time (like 10 seconds) and then cut. If it hardens again, repeat. You'll end up with more of a hard candy (like Worther's), but delicious nonetheless. If this is the case, try a little less time with the next batch. I hope this helps you come up with the perfect formula for homemade caramels in your home microwave! Kindest regards, Jenn

  15. The original bowl was HUGE so I don't think that was the problem. I just tried the candy and it is very good!! :)


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