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Bourbon Maple Salted Caramels

Salted Bourbon Caramels are a perfect holiday gift for anyone who craves sweet and salty. Traditional salted caramels are enhanced with the flavors of bourbon, maple syrup, and vanilla beans!

Salted bourbon caramels on parchment paper

Making Homemade Soft Caramels

Making homemade caramels has been a tradition in our house for at least five years now. It is something that the kids and I really look forward to because we love eating them!

I have a special weakness for things salty and sweet, and these salted bourbon caramels are the perfect combination of sweet and salty. I think I need a bit of saltiness with my sweet to balance things out.

Salted caramels are one of my most favorite treats, so several years ago I decided that I needed to learn how to make them myself.

Making caramels might sound tricky. At first I was intimidated too.

Making candies can seem a lot more complicated than baking cookies when you start talking about candy thermometers and cooking your caramel to the right temperature.  

Maybe you’ve tried before and haven’t had good luck with them. In this post, I’m sharing my top tips and tricks for making homemade soft caramels — including how to adjust candy recipes if you’re at a higher altitude!

Ingredients for Bourbon Caramels

I made these homemade caramels without corn syrup as I know not everyone can access it easily, or they simply avoid baking with it. To make the caramels without corn syrup, you’ll need:

  • Heavy cream
  • Bourbon
  • Butter
  • Vanilla beans
  • Water
  • Brown sugar
  • Granulated sugar
  • Maple syrup
  • Sea salt
  • Maldon flake salt (for garnish)

For the complete ingredient list and detailed instructions, scroll to the bottom of this post for the FREE printable recipe card.

How to Make Bourbon Caramels

Making homemade soft caramels is fairly simple, but you will have to stand by the stove babysitting the pot! You’ll also need a candy thermometer to make this recipe.

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the heavy cream, bourbon, butter, and whole vanilla beans.
  2. Cook over medium heat until the butter has melted, then turn to low heat and simmer for 10 minutes to let the vanilla beans infuse into the cream mixture.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the water, brown sugar, granulated sugar, maple syrup and sea salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. 
  4. Boil, without stirring but gently swirling pan, until mixture is a light golden caramel and sugar is dissolved.
  5. Carefully stir in the cream mixture and simmer over medium low heat, stirring frequently, until caramel registers 248°F on thermometer.
  6. Pour the caramel into a parchment paper-lined 9×13-inch pan. Sprinkle the top with Maldon salt.
  7. Cool for 2 hours before cutting.

The above is simply a quick summary of this recipe. Check out the full recipe in the free printable recipe card at the bottom of this post for all the detailed instructions.

Salted bourbon caramels on parchment paper

Making Candy at High Altitudes

The trick is to know the elevation for where you live and then factor that into the instructions for this Bourbon Caramels recipe (or any other caramel recipe).

Because, if you’re wondering does altitude affect candy making?, the answer is YES.

Living significantly above sea level will result in hard candy rather than soft, chewy homemade caramels if you don’t adjust the temperature in the recipe. 

For best results, you are definitely going to want to adjust the recipe for these Bourbon Maple Salted Caramels.

How to Adjust Candy Recipes for High Altitude

With higher altitudes you are going to bring the final cook temperature up lower if you live above sea level to achieve the same soft, chewy caramels.

Conversion Instructions for High Altitude Candy Making

  • Subtract 2 degrees off the final cook temperature for every 1,000 feet above sea level that you live.

For example, I live at 5,000 feet above sea level. I will multiple 2 degrees x 5 = 10 degrees lower temperature for the cook time when making these Bourbon Maple Salted Caramels.

Can Homemade Caramels Be Frozen?

Yes, they can be frozen for up to one year in a freezer bag. When ready to eat, thaw on your counter for about 30 minutes.

Tips for Making Homemade Soft Caramels

  • Homemade caramels can be finicky if you aren’t paying attention. My first time making this recipe I got distracted by a little sibling squabble that happened at the most inopportune moment and, unfortunately, the caramel got too hot, which then ruined the entire batch.
  • If you’d like, you can eat these Bourbon Caramels as is, or you can dip them in tempered chocolate. Just melt your favorite chocolate low and slow over a double boiler (keeping the chocolate temperature under 90 degrees F) and dip the cooled caramel squares in the chocolate.
  • Don’t try to substitute any of the ingredients for “healthier” counterparts. Making caramel is a science, so you have to use the ingredients I specified in the recipe card below.

More Homemade Christmas Candy Recipes:

Homemade candies, like these Bourbon Maple Salted Caramels, are perfect for sweet gifts this holiday season!

For classic chocolate-covered caramels, try these Chocolate Covered Vanilla Fleur de Sel Caramels.

Salted Caramel Candy is easy to make and is great for gifting around the holidays. To make these caramels stand out, I topped them with orange scented sugar!

Do you know someone who loves chocolate paired with peppermint? This Triple Chocolate Candy Cane Hot Cocoa Bark would be a hit with them!

Gingerbread Caramels are a fun twist on a classic caramel recipe. Caramel pairs awesomely with hints of molasses and ginger.

Dark Chocolate Turtle Pretzel Bark is a fun treat for kids to help make for a teacher gift. 

Try this Bittersweet Chocolate Swirl Fruit and Nut Bark. Bittersweet chocolate, white chocolate, almonds, raspberries, strawberries, pumpkin and chia seeds combine for a delectable and colorful holiday treat.

Homemade Chocolate Dipped Candy Cane Marshmallows are easy to make! Pair a bag of these goodies with a mug or hot cocoa mix for an inexpensive (and yummy) holiday gift.

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Tips to Prepare for a Fun Winter Break with Kids - Bourbon Maple Salted Caramels

Bourbon Maple Salted Caramels

Yield: 70
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Cooling Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes

Bourbon Maple Salted Caramels are a perfect holiday gift for anyone who craves sweet and salty. Traditional salted caramels are enhanced with the flavors of bourbon, maple syrup, and vanilla beans.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Heavy Cream
  • 1/2 cup Bourbon
  • 10 tablespoons Butter
  • 2 whole Vanilla Beans, split down the middle from end to end
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 3/4 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 cup Maple Syrup
  • 2 teaspoons Sea Salt
  • Maldon Flake Salt, for garnish (if desired)
  •  

Instructions

  1. Prepare a 9x13-inch baking pan by lining it with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the heavy cream, bourbon, butter, and whole vanilla beans (split them down the middle from end to end).
  3. Cook over medium heat until the butter has melted, then turn to low heat and simmer for 10 minutes to let the vanilla beans infuse into the cream mixture.
  4. Discard the vanilla beans.
  5. Meanwhile, combine the water, brown sugar, granulated sugar, maple syrup and sea salt in a large saucepan.
  6. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil, without stirring but gently swirling pan, until mixture is a light golden caramel and sugar is dissolved.
  7. Carefully stir in the cream mixture (mixture will bubble up) and simmer over medium low heat, stirring frequently, until caramel registers 248°F on thermometer, 15 - 20 minutes.
  8. Pour into the prepared baking pan.
  9. Sprinkle the top with Maldon salt, if desired, and cool 2 hours.
  10. Remove caramels from pan and cut into 1 inch pieces, set aside.
  11. Store in an airtight container.

Notes

Above Sea Level Instructions

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 from the final cook temperature.
  • For example, I live at 5,000 ft. above sea level, so I subtract a total of 10 degrees from the temperature indicated in the recipe, cooking until the candy thermometer reaches 238 degrees F.

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Nutrition Information
Yield 70 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 66Total Fat 4gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 1gCholesterol 12mgSodium 85mgCarbohydrates 7gFiber 0gSugar 6gProtein 0g

GoodLifeEats.com offers recipe nutritional information as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although GoodLifeEats.com makes every effort to provide accurate information, these figures are only estimates.

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PZ

Tuesday 6th of November 2018

Hi Katie, These look great, but was wondering if you split the vanilla beans before steeping them in the cream. If so, do you strain out the seeds? Look forward to trying this. Thanks for posting!

Katie

Wednesday 7th of November 2018

Yes, split them first. Thanks for asking! I will clarify in the recipe. Enjoy!

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