Vanilla cream filled caramels are very nostalgic for me. Growing up they were one of my Mom's favorite candies to eat and I can still see her unwrapping the clear and red wrapper in my mind. These are also referred to as the homemade bullseye candy and very similar to the cowtails candy recipe.
If you are looking for a luxury cut and wrap caramel recipe, check out this pdf guide. It goes over all aspects of making the candy, FAQ, and even retail packaging and labeling. It is the exact recipe I use for my retail sales (and is constantly sold out!)
From start to finish these will take you about two hours if you don't take any breaks. I highly encourage reading this post and watching the 30 second video below before jumping to the recipe if you are going to make them.
If you read through this recipe and decide you want to give something a little simpler a try, take a look at these easy salted caramels. If you love these and want to make another version, I've also got chocolate cream caramels.
Ingredients - vanilla cream caramels
- unsalted butter
- brown sugar
- evaporated milk
- heavy cream
- corn syrup
- powdered sugar
- vegetable shortening
Equipment - vanilla cream caramels
5 quart planetary mixer
high heat spatula or wooden spoon
All of the ingredients for this caramel go in the same pot at the same time. Cook it over medium low until all of the butter is melted and sugar is dissolved. Turn the heat to medium until you reach a boil, and then continue to cook on medium-high until you reach 241F. This will take around 25 minutes.
Spread the caramel on parchment paper in a 10" x 15" rectangle. The caramel will be around ⅛" thick. Let the caramel cool completely while you make the vanilla cream. Caramel will cool in about 30 minutes.
Make Vanilla Cream
Using a five quart planetary mixer, cream shortening until it is soft and smooth, about a minute. Add in powdered sugar in ½ cup increments until all of it has been incorporated. Add in vanilla, corn syrup, and liquid vegetable oil while mixing on low. Mix until all ingredients are combined, and then add in water. Vanilla cream will have an almost goat cheese / crumbled appearance, but holds its shape if squeezed in your hand. Pour the vanilla cream out on parchment paper and knead it until it the consistency turns into a dough. At this point, you can either roll it out using a rolling pin OR leave it as is and hand apply small amounts directly to the caramel.
Cut your caramel
Yes, you could make one really large vanilla cream caramel but it is MUCH EASIER to work with four smaller pieces. Cut your caramel slab into four rectangles.
Apply the Vanilla Cream
This part is messy. Choose your own adventure here by either:
- rolling out the exact size square of vanilla cream center you need and applying it to the caramel
- take small amounts and spread it on with your fingers, a spatula, a knife.. etc.
The vanilla cream layer should be half the height of the caramel layer. You also need to leave a ½" space at the top of the caramel slab.
Roll baby, roll (twice!)
Starting from the side that does NOT have the caramel space, roll the caramel into a log. This is very similar to making cinnamon buns. Roll it as tightly and evenly as you can. Once you've completed the roll, you're going to continue to roll the same piece. This is just like when you were five years old and how you used to pretend to make play-doh snakes. Or, similar to when you roll out pretzel dough to make soft pretzels at home. This will lengthen the caramel log and cause the vanilla cream inside to pack together nicely. You need to roll and lengthen until you no longer hear the caramel seam hitting the table.
Cut and Wrap
I like to cut my pieces into ½" slices, and then use clear cello wrap to package them. You can also use parchment or wax paper cut into 5" x 5" squares. If you purchase clear cello wrap for candy, double check the size before you buy! You need them to be AT LEAST 5" x 5".
If you don't wrap these individually, please make sure you place them in a single layer without any caramel touching each other. Caramel loves to stick together. Single layer, parchment in between layers, closed container.
When you cut, roll your caramel long in a quarter turn after each cut. This will make it so the caramel retains a circular shape. Also, if you heat your knife up and use cooking spray on the blade you can help with keeping a nice piece shape.
Vanilla Cream Caramels
- high heat spatula or wooden spoon
- kitchen scale
- 113 grams unsalted butter
- 340 grams brown sugar
- 4 grams salt
- 340 grams evaporated milk (1 can)
- 170 grams heavy cream
- 285 grams corn syrup
- Lay out a large piece of parchment paper. This should be large enough to fit a 10" x 16" rectangle with room around each side.
- In a heavy duty, thick bottomed pot, combine butter, brown sugar, salt, evaporated milk, heavy cream, and corn syrup.
- Cook over medium- low heat, stirring constantly, until butter has melted and sugar has dissolved.
- Turn heat to medium. Stirring constantly, bring mixture to a boil.
- Turn heat to medium high. Stirring constantly, cook caramel until temperature reaches 241F.
- Turn off heat. Pour caramel on parchment. Spread into a thin layer, making a 10" x 16" rectangle. Cool completely. Make vanilla cream while it cools
- Place shortening in mixing bowl. Mix on low for one minute.
- Add powdered sugar, ½ cup at a time.
- Add vanilla and corn syrup. Mix until combined. Ingredients will resemble goat cheese crumbles.
- Add water. Mix. A small amount of additional water might be needed to achieve texture. You are looking for the ingredients to feel like play-doh and to become like clay when you squeeze them together in your hand.
- Dump out contents of mixing bowl onto work surface (parchment paper or a large cutting board is great!) Work the ingredients until a dough forms. Set aside.
- Cut caramel slab into four equal pieces.
- Apply vanilla cream in a thin layer to caramel, leaving ½ " space at the top long side. Vanilla cream layer should be about half the height of the caramel layer.
- Roll up caramel into a log.
- Using your hands, roll caramel long like you are rolling pretzel dough to lengthen it. Aim for 12-15 inches in length. You should no longer hear or feel a caramel seam when rolling the piece.
- Cut the caramel into ½" slices. Wrap in desired packaging.