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I usually reserve caramels for Christmas time. For some reason, I’ve always used caramels as a special treat that I give – and eat! – during the holidays. Obviously, I don’t only crave caramel once a year. In fact, t’s entirely the opposite. I really, really love the flavor of a homemade caramel: those sweet and bitter notes encapsulated within each bite, complete with a hint of what I like to think of as a touch of butterscotch. And since fall really is the unofficial season of pumpkin, is it any surprise that if I’m making caramels at any other time besides Christmas, they’re sure to be pumpkin spice caramels?
I used to think making caramel at home was hard, let alone perfecting a tender-consistency caramel. The idea of creating a soft and chewy texture seemed like something only a professional could master. Thankfully, I decided to give it a go (you should too!) and realized caramel really isn’t that hard. Sure, sugar work can take some time to get used to but shouldn’t be considered scary. An instant-read thermometer or candy thermometer is essential for this recipe, but follow the steps and you’ll be on the road to a cozy fall treat!
The basic steps:
- Heat together a butter and cream mixture.
- Heat sugar, water and syrup together until it reaches 310 degrees Fahrenheit to create the caramel base.
- Mix the cream mixture into the sugar mixture and heat back to 248 degrees.
- Add in flavors and let harden to a beautiful, soft and chewy caramel.
BONUS: These may be a pumpkin spice variety, laden with pepitas and fall-time spices (cloves, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon… all the essentials!), but you can definitely make them all year long! There are pretty much endless flavor combinations to be concocted and I can’t wait to hear what flavors you come up with! Let me know in the comments below your ideas!
Watch how to make these pumpkin spice caramels:
Pumpkin Spice Caramels
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup golden syrup (affiliate link) (or white corn syrup)
- ¼ cup water
- 1 cup roasted pepitas
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Spray a 9×9 inch baking dish with nonstick baking spray. Line with parchment paper, cutting larger than needed to create handles. Spray the parchment and set aside.
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter and heavy cream over low heat. Once the butter is melted, turn to the lowest heat setting to keep warm.
- In a large 4-quart kettle, combine the sugar, water and golden syrup (affiliate link). Bring to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, continue to boil until the mixture registers 310 degrees on an instant read thermometer.
- Remove from the heat and slowly pour in about ½ cup of the warm cream and melted butter mixture, stirring constantly. Continue to stir and slowly pour in the remaining cream and butter mixture until it’s all added and the mixture is smooth.
- Set back over medium heat. The mixture will have cooled so continue to cook until the mixture registers 248°F. Remove from heat.
- Add the pepitas, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, salt and vanilla.
- Stir until combined and pour into the prepared baking dish. Cool at room temperature until solid and slightly dry, 6-8 hours.
- Once cooled, use the parchment to remove the caramel from the baking dish. Using a large, sharp knife, cut into 1-inch strips. Cut the strips into 1-inch pieces. Immediately wrap each piece in a small square of parchment paper.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator as the golden syrup keeps these soft. Remove from refrigerator 15 minutes before serving.