Sea Salt & Bourbon Caramels

Adapted from bon appetite’s recipe…

Nonstick spray

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1/4 cup water

1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz.)

1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces (room temperature)

2 tablespoons bourbon

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 – 2 teaspoons flaked or coarse sea salt (like Maldon brand)

  1. Spray an 8″ square baking pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, gently stir sugars, corn syrup, and water together and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Cook until sugar reaches a deep amber color (swirling pan to mix sugar- do not stir while sugar cooks)- about 10 minutes or so.  Use a wet pastry brush to periodically brush the sugar off the inside edges of the pan as it splatters up.
  3. Remove pan from heat and whisk in sweetened condensed milk and butter until smooth (prepare for lots of bubbles). Over medium-low heat, cook the caramel until a candy thermometer reaches 240° (whisking the entire time).
  4. Remove pan from heat and whisk in bourbon (if using), vanilla and salt.  Pour into prepared pan, and allow to cool on a cooling rack. Sprinkle with flaky or coarse sea salt, then cut into pieces.


  • You might want to make sure you use a candy thermometer… to avoid this whole problem.
  • Use a good quality saucepan (a heavy one that distributes the heat evenly).  The first time I made caramel I used a thin, cheap pan and burned the sugar in a way that was so not my fault.
  • No stirring?  Really!  It will ruin the texture.  Just swirl.  Gently.
  • What’s with the wet pastry brush?  Sugar that jumps onto the side of the saucepan becomes evil, causing the batch to crystallize and basically mess up your texture.  So wash it away every few minutes and you’re good to go.
  • Not using bourbon?  Increase the vanilla to a tablespoon.
  • Like harder caramel candy?  Let the thermometer hit 245°.
  • Cutting caramel is infinitely easier if you spray non-stick spray on your knife between slices.
  • Wrap in little wax paper/parchment squares or put your pieces in mini muffin liners.  They WILL stick together if you let them co-mingle with one another.  Sticky buggers.
  • Store caramels at room temperature, for up to a week or so.  (Why wait that long to finish the batch?)  They will freeze if stored in an airtight container, FYI.
  • Enjoy!

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