Are you looking for a fantastic chewy caramel recipe without corn syrup? Well, you’ve come to the right place. It can be disheartening when you want to make caramels but find that nearly every recipe out there calls for corn syrup or glucose syrup. Though this syrup can really help with preventing crystals from forming when cooking a caramel, it isn’t actually a necessary ingredient to make a killer caramel — in fact, it isn’t even a traditional ingredient!
Where I live in Tbilisi, Georgia, corn syrup isn’t even available and I would have to special order it from abroad in order to have it. This was frustrating at one point when I was making a caramel for a recipe and continually had problems with it crystalizing and seizing. After two or three failed batches of caramel, I took to the internet to find out how to prevent this from happening. Much to my chagrin, every tip I found insisted that I needed to add corn syrup or cream of tartar, another ingredient unavailable in Georgia.
Rather than giving up, I set my mind to figuring out just how to make caramel without corn syrup or cream of tartar and through a bit of trial and error, I’ve developed it. So if you’re looking for a great chewy salted caramel recipe without corn syrup, sweetened condensed milk, cream of tartar or any other odd add-ins, then look no further. In fact, this caramel recipe only uses four ingredients and yields an extraordinary result.
How to Make Caramel Without Corn Syrup
The reason corn syrup is an ingredient that features so heavily in caramel recipes is that it helps prevent the sugar from crystalising and your caramel from seizing. Sugar crystals are the bane of any caramel’s existence and will ruin your caramel in an instant, so it makes sense that cooks over the years have devised some shortcuts to prevent this from happening. It’s the same reason why you will find cream of tartar in so many recipes, as well — the acidity prevents crystals from forming.
But the good news is, you absolutely can successfully execute a caramel recipe without corn syrup. It just takes a little extra attentiveness and no half measures – you have to watch that caramel like a hawk while also making sure not to do anything that will result in crystals forming!
First things first, however, you need to prepare your mold where your caramels will cool down. I recommend using a 22x11cm (8.5×4.5in) loaf pan for this. In order to easily release the caramels once they’ve cooled down, I fashion a bit of a parchment sling in the pan.
Grease your loaf pan with butter or cooking spray. Then cut two pieces of parchment so that they are the same width as the long side of the pan and the short side of the pan but longer than the sides so you can use it as a handle. Lay these into the pan so that they’re overlapping, and then brush them with more butter or cooking spray. Set the pan aside until needed.
To begin this caramel recipe without corn syrup, pour your heavy cream into a small saucepan and add your butter. Melt the butter into the cream, remove from the heat, pour into a jug and set aside (but keep it close to the stove!) until needed.
Now, you need to actually make the caramel that is the basis of these chewy caramel candies. This is where you can easily mess up if you do not heed my advice.
In a medium saucepan over the lowest flame possible, add your sugar and 60ml of water (about 1/4 cup). Stirring constantly with a heatproof silicone spatula, gently dissolve the sugar. This is the absolute most crucial step to the caramel recipe without condensed milk or corn syrup, you HAVE TO ensure that all of the sugar is dissolved before it comes up to a boil. This will take a bit of time but do no rush it or your caramel will be ruined.
Once your sugar is dissolved, bring the mixture to a gentle boil. AS SOON as the mixture has started to boil, stop stirring. Remove your spatula and brush down the sides of the pan with some water to wash off any sugar that has begun to crystalise on the sides of the pot. Increase the heat to medium and allow to bubble.
This is where your patience will be tested. The sugar can take a while to caramelise (much like caramelising onions for French onion soup!) but once it begins taking on even a shade of colour, it can go from pale to burned in a flash. So make sure to monitor the mixture intensively, just DO NOT stir it — this will cause it to crystalise!
After about 10-15 minutes (but it could be sooner depending on a number of factors), you will notice your caramel begin to take on a honey colour. Keep an extra attentive eye on the caramel at this point. In the next few minutes, you will notice it beginning to darken in colour.
As soon as you see the caramel reach a dark amber colour with the slightest whisps of smoke emerging from the top, turn off the heat. If you have a candy or instant-read thermometer, you want to pull it when it reaches 160°C (320°F). However, if you want to know how to make caramel without a candy thermometer, then just rely on these visual indicators.
Now, pour in your cream and butter mixture while stirring constantly with the same heatproof spatula. It will sputter and foam up a lot, so do not be alarmed. Then, add your salt. Keep stirring and return to the heat. At a medium flame, cook the caramel (stirring constantly now!) until it reaches 120°C (250°F), this will take about 5-10 more minutes.
If you don’t have a thermometer, keep a dish of cold water nearby and drop a spoonful of the caramel in there. This will call it to instantly harden and you can gauge the consistency. We’re cooking the caramels to what is referred to as the firm ball stage. This means that when dropped in water, the syrup will form a ball that won’t flatten when you pick it up but it is still very malleable.
Once you reach this stage, remove your caramel from the heat and immediately pour it into your prepared loaf pan. Set aside in a cool place and allow the caramels to cool for at least 3 hours (or overnight) until the caramels are completely cooled through and firm.
Using the sling, pull the caramels from the pan once they’re cooled and remove the parchment paper. Using a sharp knife, cut the caramels into 16 even squares and sprinkle with a generous dusting of a flaky sea salt like Maldon or fleur de sel.
You can then wrap the caramels individually in wax paper or store them in an airtight container. Enjoy!
- 125ml (1/2 cup) heavy cream
- 100g (7 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 200g (1 cup) sugar
- 8g (1 teaspoon) salt
- Flaky sea salt, for garnish
- Brush a 22x11cm (8.5x4.55in) loaf pan with melted butter or spray with cooking spray. Cut two pieces of parchment to fit the length of both sides of the pan. Place them in the pan, overlapping, so they form a sling. Brush these with butter or cooking spray as well. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter into the heavy cream. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- In a medium saucepan over very low heat, pour 60ml (1/4 cup) of water over the sugar. Stirring constantly, slowly dissolve the sugar in the water, ensuring that the sugar is completely dissolved before it comes to a boil.
- Once the sugar is dissolved, wash down the sides of the pot with a pastry brush dipped in water to prevent any sugar from crystalizing. Once the mixture has come to a boil, stop stirring and allow to boil until the sugar mixture reaches a deep amber colour and an instant-read thermometer registers at 160°C (320°F). Do not stir the mixture at all once it has come to a boil.
- Turn off the heat and, stirring constantly, pour in the butter and cream mixture along with the salt. It will sputter, foam and steam at this point so do not be alarmed. Stir until well combined and return the heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 120°C (250°F).
- Remove from the heat and pour into prepared loaf pan. Allow to cool until completely cooled and set, at least 3 hours and up to overnight.
- Once cooled, remove from the pan and, using a sharp knife, cut into 16 equal pieces. Garnish with flaky salt and serve.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 120Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 22mgSodium: 197mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 0gSugar: 13gProtein: 0g
Nutritional information is automatically generated and provided as guidance only. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
As you can see, it is completely possible to make delicious chewy salted caramels without corn syrup. In fact, once you get the hang of it, you will be able to make these in your sleep.
Have you been looking for a caramel recipe without corn syrup? Have any questions? Let me know in the comments!