The Ultimate Butter Caramel

This is a recipe that has taken quite a few holiday seasons to develop, but I guarantee that you’ll NEVER be satisfied with another caramel again. It was developed at an elevation of 4500 feet, so add 1 degree of cooking temperature for every 500 feet in elevation drop (IE: 244 degrees at sea level, 240 degrees at 2000 feet).

1/2 cup salted butter cut into small chunks
2 cups DARK brown sugar (light brown sugar doesn’t work)
2 cups light corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla

Combine corn syrup and dark brown sugar in large saucepan (I use a 6 qt pan). Place on medium heat and stir till dissolved. Then increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Let the mixture boil for 2-3 minutes, keeping sides of the pan clean (this is important as dirty pan sides cause sugar chunks in the finished product, and the boiling creates a darker, more flavorful caramel due to a chemical process called Maillard reaction that takes place between the milk fat (protein), and the lactose, fructose and glucose (carbohydrate).

Add butter, one chunk at a time, stirring constantly. Add salt. Keep stirring as you slowly pour in cream so mixture does not stop boiling. STOP STIRRING after the cream is completely incorporated. Cook without stirring to 236 degrees (see note above about changes to final temperature based on elevation) and take off the heat. Add vanilla. Without scraping the pan, pour into a generously buttered 9″X12″ pan (I use Pyrex as it makes it easier to remove the next day). Put the pan on a cooling rack and let cool for 12+ hours. I usually cover the pan with plastic wrap after 1-2 hours of cooling.

Turn the pan over onto a cutting surface and the caramel block should slowly fall on to your surface. If not, you may try heating the bottom of the pan in hot tap water, or if all else fails, gently help it out with a rubber spatula.

Cut caramel into squares and wrap in waxed paper.

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