Salted Microwave Caramels

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My weakness in the world of sweet treats is, and has always been, caramels.  I’ve rarely met a caramel I didn’t love and I’ve never met one I didn’t like, but I rarely make them myself because, well, they’re a pain in the tush to make… Or at least I thought they were.

But what if I told you that you could create an amazing, luscious, creamy, decadent, mouthwatering caramel in about 6 minutes. What if I also told you that this can be done in what was, until today at least, my least favorite kitchen tool; The microwave oven.

Yep. I made these bad boys in the microwave and I’ll happily do it again without any guilt or shame whatsoever.

These caramels are perfect. They are awe inspiring. The flavor is something between a standard butter caramel and dulce de leche with just a hint of saltiness as a back-note. They are amazing.

But be warned: Whether it’s intentional in the recipe, because of the climate here in Alaska or because I did something wrong, these are the gooiest caramels I have ever seen.  As an illustration of that, in the picture below the caramels were frozen and resting on a frozen board under an open window pouring 29 degree air onto the counter and they were still completely flexible.

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I’m not saying that’s a bad thing however.  It makes this the perfect caramel to use as a dipping sauce or as a coating for apples. Warmed just slightly this recipe makes the a great topping for pies or ice cream.  In fact, I moved all of it to a container so that we can use it to coat apple slices later tonight.

I think that I may have had a bit too much corn syrup in the mix, but I’m no confectioner.  If any of you can suggest a way to get a slightly firmer caramel, we’d love to hear it!

What are your thoughts? Are you a caramel lover like I am, or are you more into the deeper flavors of chocolate?  Do you have a microwave caramel recipe that works a bit better as an individual treat? Let us know in the comments.

Salted Microwave Caramels
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 Tbsp coarse sea salt (approximate)
Method
  1. Combine all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl.
  2. Microwave on high for 6 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes until all ingredients are thoroughly combined and sugars are melted completely. If mixture looks grainy, microwave in 1 minute intervals, stirring thoroughly until mixture is creamy and has no lumps.
  3. Stir into a well greased 8x8-inch dish and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle sea salt over mixture and refrigerate for at least one hour.
  5. Cut, wrap in wax paper and store refrigerated in an air-tight container for up to 3 weeks.
  6. Share and Enjoy!

What I would have done differently had I thought of it at the time:

As I said, this particular batch never quite firmed up as much as I would have liked, so I’m going to work on tweaking the amounts until I get one that I can send as a gift.  Other than that, my suggestion is GRAB A SPOON!

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Comments

    • says

      Bellini,

      This stuff is sugar crack. Seriously. The only way I can think to make it even more sugar crack like is to add vanilla or rum extract…. or both.

  1. says

    This looks dangerous…..ly delicious! This is why I shouldn´t have a microwawe – or exactly why! ;) I too love caramel and the sweet/salt-combo! Have you tried with peanuts?

    • says

      Oh yes. Yes it is. And no, this was my first attempt at this recipe, but I’ll be back for more soon enough. the Holidays are upon us, after all, and now I don’t have to buy caramel for recipes, so I’ll use more of it!

    • says

      I’m thinking more like an extra 2 to three minutes. I wouldn’t doubt that wherever I saw this first, it was tested on a 1000 or 1100 watt oven. I’m pretty sure that ours is an 800 watt, as I really never cared to buy a good one. Personally, I only used it to reheat things and make popcorn before now.

  2. says

    I just made these and boy have you given me some dangerous knowledge! I love the taste and hey, it’s a quick easy way to get your fixed. They are fantastic and couldn’t be easier. Now I need to control myself and not eat the entire batch! :) Thanks a million for the recipe.

  3. Kathi says

    I have a similar recipe for microwave caramels that I got from my mother-in-law. It is one of the few recipes I like that a) uses the microwave, b) includes sweetened condensed milk, and c) came from my mother-in-law. I have found that the longer you cook it, the harder they get. Think soft-ball stage vs hard-ball stage of candy-making. Yum!!

    • says

      I’ve started to get that. I’m going to try these again in the next few days and see just how long it takes to get a standard “caramel” out of it and then push it all the way to brittle, with times marked and noted for the wattage of my microwave.

  4. says

    Caramel used to be one of the things I feared making the most! The day I finally learned how to make it properly was both a good and bad thing…. it meant my caramel consumption went up exponentially!

    The microwave looks like a much easier way to do things…

  5. Silje says

    This is incredible! Thank you so much for sharing. I have a weakness for caramels too (which conflicts heavily with my fear of dentists, though I’ve never had a cavity) and these sound incredible, but even moreso because of the microwave technique. I hate dealing with heated sugars or fats, which is why I never deep-fry anything. It just takes so long and feels too dangerous. This method will be tested out as soon as my exams end!

  6. jstewart says

    Love caramel!! I also believe you need to cook a little longer. Peanut Brittle is another candy that’s super easy to make in the microwave.

  7. Mira says

    Made these tonight. I doubled the recipe & cooked them for 8 minutes in a 1200 watt microwave. The results were perfect.

    To make individual portions I buttered a muffin pan & filled 6 of the 12 cups with a few slivered almonds. (I love them– the rest of the family… Not so much.) I then toasted the almonds under the broiler while the caramel mixture microwaved, then spoon-poured the cooked mixture into each tin.

    If you want, you can test the caramels’ firmness by dropping the mixture into ice water until it forms a ball that has the consistency you want. (Like another reviewer said: You want it somewhere near the “hard ball” stage & the ice water method is a great, old school way to tell what that is, exactly. :)

    Thanks for the recipe!

  8. Cynthia says

    These look delicious and simple. best of both worlds. If they didn’t get hard enough just cook longer, you don’t need to change the ingredients.

  9. Paula says

    Made these and they turned out perfect. I also dipped them in chocolate. Usually I make caramels from scratch and it takes about 45 minutes. This recipe is a great alternative.

  10. Miahs says

    I just made these this afternoon and they taste so good, the only problem I have is taking them out of the pan, I had spread some wax paper and buttered it, bu when it came to remove the paper from the caramel it was all sticky. Do you just pour the mixture in a buttered pan instead. Thanks for shraing this wonderful recepie. Miahs

  11. Mio says

    Jerry,
    I am about to make these, but am wondering if I can pour the cooked mixture into individual mini baking cups then cool or do you think it will stick too much to the paper?? Maybe I should cool in the pan first, then cut into small pieces, then put in the mini cups?
    Thank you for the recipe!! Merry Christmas to you!
    Mio

  12. Kate says

    I tried this recipe last night and followed your directions to a T. The caramels taste delicious, but like yours, they’re VERY gooey (need a spoon). I don’t live at a high altitutde, so yes, maybe the recipe needs to be tweaked a bit. I did freeze them overnight, and this morning they were actually quite solid, so I let them sit on the counter for 30-45 minutes, and I was able to cut into them. As for this batch, I think we will be enjoying the caramel as an ice cream topper, and a dip for apples. It is delicious!

    • Jerry says

      There’s nothing wrong with Ice Cream toppers! the recipe depends entirely on temperature, which in a microwave depends on the amount of power it puts out. I think mine is an 800 watt unit. I’m sure that in a 1000 watt microwave, the caramels would cook faster.

  13. Joella says

    Just made these: doubled the recipe, microwaved for 9 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes except for the last 3… trying to get the heat up hoping it would make for a more firm caramels. I’ll comment tomorrow and let you know how they turn out!

      • Joella says

        Okay so I left the caramels in the fridge for over 24 hours! :) They seemed nice & hard when I took them out. I’m really glad I had lined the cake pan with parchment paper. I actually lifted the whole thing out and cut it with kitchen shears since cutting on the parchment paper only made it stickier. I am keeping the wrapped caramels in the fridge since the caramels got really sticky in just the few minutes it took to cut them up and wrap them! I’m hoping someone finds a way to make these a little harder! :)

        • says

          I’m going to give them another shot this weekend and see if cooking longer does the trick. If not, I’ll post a “cook-in-the-pan” version. The trick is to get the sugar to the right temp. Tricky in a microwave

  14. Susan says

    Was it damp the day you made it? I have made the recipe three times. Two were perfect but the humidity was near 100% the other time and it never set up.

    • Jerry says

      Since brown sugar is just granulated sugar with added molasses, I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. Give it a shot and let us know how it turns out!

  15. michele says

    would have been very helpful if you would have mentioned that the caramels did not set properly at the beginning of the recipe…duh???

  16. Brenda says

    I love caramels too, my favorite above chocolate any day. Can’t wait to try this microwave recipe. Thanks for sharing.

  17. says

    I’m making my second bath of these, the first batch was good but I had to cook it a second time since it was pretty much a dulce de leche style sauce after 6 minutes. I just stirred and cooked until it was 250* and it was a perfect chewy but not too hard caramel texture! Thanks for sharing!

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