I LOVE caramels, especially soft caramels! I love the sweetness, the butteriness, and the smooth texture. So I'm thrilled that I can now make my own homemade caramels, thanks to my friends Elisa and Angie (see Elisa's recipe here). And these are some of the best caramels I've ever had.
In the past, I've been afraid to try making something like this. Candy making intimidates me. But I shouldn't have worried. This recipe is a lot easier than I expected. I tinkered with the microwave times the first couple of batches to get the desired consistency I was after, but now I've got it down. I am in heaven!
1 cup corn syrup
2 cups sugar
1 pint whipping cream
Dash of salt
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 2/3 cup cream in a microwave-safe bowl (it needs to be a deep bowl because the caramel mixture bubbles up quite a bit, and you don't want it to spill over into the bottom of your microwave; I use the liner from my slow cooker) and mix until blended. Cook the mixture on high power for 9 minutes, then stir in 2/3 cup more cream. Cook the mixture for another 9 minutes. Then stir in butter, vanilla, and the rest of the cream (butter should be completely melted). Cook for another 8 minutes. Check to see if caramel is cooked to soft-ball stage by dropping a little in a cup of cold water. If necessary, continue cooking the caramel one minute at a time until it is done. Pour into a well-buttered 8 x 8-inch pan and allow to cool and set up. Cut the caramel into pieces, wrap, and enjoy! By the way, I found that a local store sells caramel wrappers, which I hadn't known were available. They are pre-cut and clear, which makes the wrapped caramels more attractive, especially compared to wax paper.
NOTE: cooking times may vary depending on your microwave. The times above work perfectly for MY microwave, and I've made these caramels about a dozen times now. But I know that a few people have tried this recipe and ended up with overdone caramel. So I'd suggest maybe reducing the cooking times a bit and using the cold water method mentioned above to test whether the candy is at the soft ball stage. You can always cook the caramel longer, of course, but there isn't much you can do when it is overcooked. However, once you have the times down, this recipe is VERY easy.