It's time for another Secret Recipe Club (SRC) recipe. In case you're new to this, here's how it works. Each of the food bloggers participating in the SRC is secretly assigned another food blog. The assignment is to choose a recipe from that blog, make the recipe (or an adaptation of it) and feature it in a post. The blog matches are a secret to the other blogger until reveal day. That day is today! Make sure you read to the end of this post for links to the other participants and their recipes. Someone will be blogging about one of my recipes, but I don't know who. That's why it's called:
This month, my assignment was to choose a recipe from The Boys Made Me Do It. It's a fun blog by Cara, the mother of 3 boys and the wife of a chef. Having raised 2 boys, I know all about being outnumbered by men in the house. I can relate. I'm afraid I can't relate to having a chef for a husband. If you've read my early posts, you know that King-Man specializes in making cold cereal (Life cereal, in particular), and that's pretty much it.
Although Cara's husband is a chef, she is also a great cook and does most of the cooking for the family. Her blog has lots of family-friendly recipes to choose from. After reading through all of them and making a lengthy list of inviting possibilities, I ended up choosing her most recent post for Microwave Sea Salt Caramels. It's a sweet & salty flavor combo that is very popular, but one that I hadn't tried making before. I thought these caramels would be great to make for the upcoming holidays, and I was intrigued with the idea of making caramels in the microwave. Could they really be as easy and yummy as they sounded? In a word, YES! This recipe is incredibly easy, and the caramels are creamy, chewy, and delicious.
The only slight tweak I made was to add a bit of vanilla and try adding a few toppings. But, I made the caramels in the microwave exactly the way Cara described. My first batch was a winner. I ended up making the recipe 3 times to try different pans and molds, and every batch turned out great. That kind of consistency is the sign of a reliable recipe. So, here goes.
Step-by-step photos for making Microwave Sea Salt Caramels
Step 1. Assemble the ingredients. Butter, white sugar, brown sugar, light corn syrup, vanilla, sweetened condensed milk, coarse sea salt, chocolate chips, canola oil, chopped nuts, & decorating sprinkles (not pictured)
Step 2. Cook the caramel.
*TIP: ADJUST COOKING TIME FOR YOUR MICROWAVE WATTAGE
The recommended cooking times in this recipe are based on my 1100 watt microwave. If yours has a different wattage, you will most likely need to adjust the cooking time accordingly. (I found my microwave wattage on a label that is visible on the inside of the microwave.) Because microwaves vary, there may be some trial and error involved to determine exactly the correct cooking time. Click here for a cooking conversion chart for different wattages that I found online. I don't know if the chart is perfectly reliable, but it may give you some guidance in making adjustments.
Your caramels should be chewy and easy to eat--not a challenge to your dental work! If they turn out too hard, you need to reduce the cooking time. If they're too soft, increase the cooking time.
Step 3. Pour the hot caramel into a mold. I'll demonstrate 2 options.
OPTION 1 -- A Baking dish
Hint: Put the caramel on a sheet of parchment or waxed paper for easier cutting and removal later. Otherwise, it may stick to the cutting board.
OPTION 2 -- Use mini ice cube trays for molds
Step 4. Sprinkle generously with coarse sea salt. Press it in gently.
Step 5. Wrap individual pieces in parchment or waxed paper and twist the ends. Store in fridge or at a cool room temperature. Parchment paper worked the best for me--the caramels release easily without sticking. 4" x 3" paper rectangles are the perfect size for wrapping 40 lof these log-shaped caramels cut from an 8" x 8" square pan. Store in fridge or at a cool room temperature.
Love that sweet & salty combo. Yum!
Update about shipping: I had a question about shipping these in the comments section, and I thought this was worthy of mention here so you don't miss it. If you want to ship the salted caramels, I recommend the plain, log-shapped ones pictured above, individually wrapped in parchment paper and twisted on the ends. The wrapping helps the caramels keep their shape and keeps them from sticking together. I don't recommend shipping the decorated caramels illustrated below. They may lose their shape if they get too warm during the shipping process.
Here are some optional ways to add different flavors, colors, and textures to your caramels.
Drizzle with melted chocolate.
Add 1 tablespoon of canola oil to 1 cup of chocolate chips and microwave at 20 second intervals, stopping to stir each time, and continuing to cook just until melted--approx. 60 seconds total.
Drizzle on the chocolate with a spoon, or use a squeeze bottle. An alternative to the bottle is to put the melted chocolate in a plastic ziploc bag, push the chocolate down to one corner, twist the top of the bag, snip a small hole in the corner of the bag, and squeeze the chocolate out through the hole.
Click here for Amazon link to squeeze bottles.
While the chocolate is still wet, sprinkle on some coarse sea salt, if desired. Here are the ice cube tray caramels:
And, here are caramels formed in the 8x8 baking dish and cut into 24 pieces:
Add decorating sprinkles.
You can add decorating sprinkles in holiday or any theme colors.
Add chopped nuts.
Add nuts for some crunch and yum. These taste like turtle candies.
Make a variety.
Using the ice cube tray molds makes these uniform in size and shape. Add a variety of toppings and arrange them in a single layer in a small box. They'll look like they came from a candy store!
Caramels are sticky and easier to remove if arranged so they don't touch each other and are stored on parchment or waxed paper. Wrap individual caramels in parchment or waxed paper or place in single layer on top of parchment/wax paper in covered container. Store in fridge or at a cool room temperature. They will lose their shape if they get too warm. Refrigerated caramels are too stiff to eat and should be brought to room temperature before eating.
Caution about paper candy cups: I tried inserting the caramels into 2 different kinds of paper candy (mini muffin) cups with mixed results. The caramels stuck to one kind and were impossible to remove without making a mess; but they released fine from the other. These foil ones worked the best of the ones I tried. Cutting small pieces of parchment paper to set them on works even better.
Here's the best part...biting into one of these gooey, chewy, creamy treats. SO, SO GOOD. Too good to be this easy!
Want to give these caramels as a gift?
Check out my post with packaging ideas and printable tags.
Click to view Sea Salt Caramel Gift Ideas & Tags
Thanks to Cara for the caramel recipe and inspiration.
Make it a yummy day!