Making caramel may seem like a daunting task, but it is an exhilarating (and delicious) science project that requires a little preparation, patience, and timing. Challenge your candy-making skills by trying out this soft caramel recipe by a chef from the Culinary Institute of America.
As you cook the caramel on the stove top, you will notice the sugar, butter, and evaporated milk will slowly deepen in color and flavor. Caramel expands and bubbles as it cooks, so use a larger pot to avoid a hot, sticky mess from boiling over. As you cook, your flame should be high enough to allow the caramel to bubble yet low enough to allow the caramel to slowly develop its flavors.
When you reach the magic number, work quickly and don't delay! Even a few degrees can completely change the texture, consistency, and flavor of a caramel. But use extreme caution, because caramel burns are dangerous and painful; keep a bowl of ice water nearby just in case.
Allow the caramel to cool completely before you use a chef's knife to cut the slab into strips, then into square pieces. Use your fingers to mold the individual pieces into perfect squares.
1/2 cup water Equipment
2 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup light corn syrup
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter, unsalted, softened
1 teaspoon salt
Heat-resistant rubber spatula
9 x 13-inch metal baking pan
1/2 cup water