Creamy, soft, small batch caramel is the perfect treat to make when you want to really impress people but you don't want to spend a lot of time standing over a boiling pot of milk and sugar. This small batch caramel recipe makes around 30 chewy homemade caramels. Enough for you to enjoy and share!
Caramels are most popular around the holidays, but I love it all year round. Homemade caramel is a fantastic gift to give a loved one, friend, or service provider.
If you are looking for a caramel for retail sales, this heavy cream caramel guide goes over lots of technical information as well as retail packaging.
What is small batch caramel
Small batch caramel uses a smaller volume of ingredients than a standard batch of caramels. It also takes less time to cook because there is less moisture to cook out of the caramels due to the smaller amount of ingredients. This is a quick caramel recipe that cooks in 25 minutes.
Looking for other small batch candy? Try out these dark chocolate meltaways.
Ingredients for small batch caramels
This easy small batch caramel takes around 25 minutes to cook, making it the perfect caramel recipe for non candy makers to start with. Basic ingredients make up this caramel recipe, so your grocery trip shouldn’t be too extensive.
- Sweetened condensed milk - A small batch of caramel without cream? Yup! Homemade caramels with sweetened condensed milk as the dairy source makes a quick caramel recipe because it cuts down on the moisture content vs a caramel recipe that uses evaporated milk, heavy cream, or fresh milk.
- unsalted butter
- brown sugar
- white sugar
- corn syrup
- table salt
- baking soda
- vanilla extract
See recipe card for quantities.
How to make a small batch of caramel
This quick soft caramel recipe is a one pot caramel. All of the ingredients except for vanilla go into a pot to cook at the same time. They truly are easy homemade caramels.
Prep your pan by lining it with parchment paper
Combine all ingredients except vanilla in the pot
Cook until 242F, turn of heat, add vanilla, and pour into prepared pan
Cool completely, cut and wrap
Hint: Precut cello candy wrappers make wrapping a breeze! You can find precut cello candy wrappers on Amazon and at craft stores that have a candy making section.
Equipment for quick easy caramels
The most important piece of equipment to have for this recipe is the correct pan size. This will ensure your caramels will spread just enough during the cooling phase to keep the height of the caramel. If you pour the caramel into a larger pan after cooking, it is so hot that it will spread out to fill the size of the pan, leaving you a thin sheet of caramel.
- 8 x 6 sheet pan this size is the standard size that comes in toaster ovens.
- heavy duty, thick bottomed pot
- candy thermometer
- high heat spatula or wooden spoon
- parchment paper
- knife for cutting
- cello candy wrappers for wrapped caramels, parchment paper and wax paper may also be used. Cut it into 5" x 5" squares
Storage and shelf life of small batch caramel
Store the cut and wrapped caramel in an airtight container at room temperature. Shelf life is six months before flavor and texture changes.
Cool the caramel completely before cutting. Ideally, this is 12-24 hours to let the sugar structure set back up. If you are in a pinch for time, you can cut and wrap after 4 hours. If you are cutting after 4 hours, make sure you use an oiled, sharp knife as the caramel will be stickier.
Video instructions small batch caramel
Small batch caramel
- 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk this is 1 can or 370 grams
- 1 cup packed brown sugar 200 grams
- ½ cup white sugar 100 grams
- 1 cup corn syrup 342 grams
- ½ teaspoon salt 4 grams
- ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ cup water 130 grams
- 1 stick butter 113 grams
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 16 grams
- Prep your 8" x 6" pan by lining it with parchment paper
- Combine all ingredients except vanilla in a heavy duty, thick bottomed pot.
- Heat over medium heat until boiling. Increase heat to medium high.
- Cook until 242F. Turn off heat. Add in vanilla.
- Pour on prepared pan. Cool completely.
- Cut caramels into ¾" width by 2" length.
- Wrap in cello candy wrappers, parchment paper, or wax paper. Store in an airtight container.
Store wrapped homemade caramels in an airtight container at normal room temperature. Avoid excessive heat. Caramels are fairly heat stable and sturdy, so they are a good pantry item.
Caramel is made by heating sugar and milk to produce a reaction called Maillard browning. It is different than caramelization, which is heating just sugar to the point where it melts, causing a breakdown of sucrose molecules into different flavor compounds.
Corn syrup keeps caramels from crystallizing. Corn syrup acts as an "interfering agent" in this and many other candy recipes. It contains long chains of glucose molecules that tend to keep the sucrose molecules in the candy syrup from crystallizing. Lots of sucrose crystals would results in grainy caramels with an unpleasant texture.
The difference is in the ingredients. Toffee and caramel candy are both made with milk, but the main difference between the two is the final cook temperature. Buttercrunch is made with sugar and butter and no milk. You can learn more about this in my scientifically speaking toffee, brittle, butter crunch.
You can pronounce it anyway you like, most people will know what you are talking about! There is absolutely no right way to say caramel. Everyone has their own way of saying it depending on where they're from.
Related caramel recipe
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