I love Salted Caramels and I love Gingerbread Cookies. Those are two very necessary Christmas flavors for me. Last week I had the thought that I should combine the two flavors into a new caramel recipe. I bring you: Gingerbread Caramels.
When I first learned how to make caramels a couple of years ago, I was very intimidated. I had many failed batches. Some were too soft to hold their shape as caramels while others were more like hard candy.
In a moment of frustration, I googled something like “why are my caramels turning out like hard candy” or “high altitude caramel,” I finally discovered that I needed to adjust my final temperature due to living at higher than sea level elevation.
What a difference that made! Now I could make soft, chewy caramels in my own home.
Altitude Adjustments for Homemade Caramels
1. First you will need to find out what your local altitude is. We’ll use my location as an example. We are just over 5,000 ft. elevation.
2. For every 1,000 feet above sea level you will subtract 2 degrees from the target temperature of the recipe. 5,000 divided by 1,000 is 5. I will take 2 degrees off 5 times. Final result 5 x 2 = 10.
3. Subtract the number of degrees you calculated previously from the recipe’s original temperature. In this recipe, the target temperature is 248 degrees F. 248 – 10 degrees for altitude adjustment = 238 degrees F: my new high altitude adjusted temperature for this recipe.
My personal preference is to take the boiling gingerbread caramel mixture off the stove when I see that the thermometer reads 1 or 2 degrees lower than the recipe temperature to ensure that I don’t accidentally in those last few seconds go from chewy caramels to hard candy.
These Gingerbread flavored caramels were a success and hit. My kids love them and my sister says they are addicting. After making a repeat batch to test the recipe again I gifted half of it to friends and Madeline’s Kindergarten teacher to get it out of our house before we ate them all ourselves.
The kids are already asking when we can make them again. As a mother, I always feel that that question is my greatest measure of success.
More Christmas Candy Recipes:
- Chocolate Raspberry Vanilla Bean Marshmallows
- Chocolate Covered Vanilla Fleur de Sel Caramels
- Homemade Chocolate-Dipped Candy Cane Marshmallows
Yield: one 9x9 inch pan
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
8 tablespoons butter
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 - 1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or fleur de sel
Line bottom and sides of an 8 or 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, then lightly oil parchment. (Related: Kitchen Tip: Lining Pans with Parchment)
Bring cream and butter to a simmer in a small saucepan, then remove from heat and set aside.
Pre-measure the spices and salt out into a small bowl. Pre-measure the vanilla into another small bowl. You will need to access these ingredients very quickly at the end of the recipe.
Combine the sugar, molasses, and water in a 4 to 5-quart heavy saucepan over medium high heat. Boil, without stirring but gently swirling pan, until all of the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is a deep amber color.
Turn heat to low. Carefully stir in cream mixture (mixture will bubble up). Return heat to medium to medium-high and simmer, stirring frequently, until caramel temperature registers no higher than 248°F on thermometer, 10 to 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and immediately whisk in the vanilla, salt and spices. Pour into baking pan.
Once the mixture has cooled slightly but is still tacky to the touch, sprinkle the tops very lightly with additional sea salt, if desired. Then, allow the caramels to completely cool before cutting. Remove caramels from pan and cut into 1 inch pieces.
Before you start this project you will also need find out what your elevation is and adjust the temperatures accordingly. For every 1,000 feet above sea level, you will need to subtract 2 degrees. For example, I live at 5,000 ft. above sea level, so I subtract a total of 10 degrees from the target temperature indicated in the recipe.
This recipe does not call for blackstrap molasses.