Vanilla Bean Salted Caramels {Secret Recipe Club}

In addition to being less than crafty, I’m also a little scared of anything that requires a candy thermometer.

Okay, so a lot scared. As in, when I see a recipe with “thermometer” in the instructions, I just keep on going.

However, when I was assigned Lynne’s blog Cafe LynnLu for this month’s Secret Recipe Club, I knew I was going to have to put my fear of candy-making aside.  Along with the myriad of wonderful recipes and absolutely breathtaking photographs, I stumbled on her recipe for espresso caramels.  Attempting homemade caramels have been on my to-do list for quite a while, so I decided to break out my candy thermometer and give ’em a try.

If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can find one at most retail/grocery stores for less than $10.  And let me tell you–after making these, it’s totally worth the few dollars you’ll spend.  Doodle and the Tall Boy–notorious NON-candy eaters–both went wild over this stuff.

I can’t say that I blame them.  I did, too.

I did alter Lynne’s recipe slightly.  I didn’t have any espresso powder on hand, so I swapped it out with vanilla bean powder instead.  And, since I had some sea salt in my pantry, I sprinkled that on the top.  Seriously, this was maybe the best candy I’ve ever eaten.

And I made it myself!  Score!

If you’re looking for make-ahead recipes for the holidays, put this one on your list.  These candies will keep for about 2-weeks in an airtight container, and are a perfect way to oooh and ahhh your friends and family.

Vanilla Bean Salted Caramels
A little extra: melt some of the caramels in a double-boiler and add enough maple stryp to make a pancake syrup mixture.
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing foil-lined pan
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean powder
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ light brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • sea salt, for dusting
  1. Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides. Generously butter the sides and bottom of the foil. Set aside.
  2. Melt butter with vanilla in a small saucepan. When butter has melted, remove from heat and stir in vanilla bean powder to combine.
  3. Combine heavy cream, both sugars, and corn syrup in a heavy, deep saucepan. Set over medium-low heat and stir constantly with a log-handled wooden spoon until sugars have dissolved and the mixture begins to boil.
  4. Increase heat to medium-high and place a candy thermometer in the saucepan. Continue to sitr until mixture reaches 240-242 degrees (soft ball stage), about 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in reserved butter and vanilla mixture.. Stir until well-combined and pour into prepared pan. Cool completely, about 2 hours.
  5. Lift caramel out by the foil and invert on a slightly oiled surface. Peel off foil, and using an oiled knife, slice and cut the caramels. I made mine about ½-inch by ½ inch.
  6. Wrap caramels in parchment papers immediately as the candies will begin to spread.

Have a great Monday, and thanks for stopping by!


I’m linked up at these great parties this week: Crazy Sweet Tuesdays, Trick or Treat Tuesdays, Tasty Tuesdays, Totally Tasty Tuesdays, Cast Party Wednesday, Whip it Up Wednesdays, Watcha’ Whipped Up Wednesdays, Eat, Pray {Read}, Love, Sweet Treats Thursday, Mrs. Fox’s Sweets, Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons, Itsy Bitsy Paper, Crumbs and Chaos, I’m Lovin’ It Fridays, Weekend Potluck, and Six Sister’s Stuff!

To see other great recipes from Secret Recipe Club members, visit the links below!


  1. Foodiewife

    Vanilla bean powder… I’ll have to keep my eyes wide open for that ingredient. These wouldn’t need to be stored for a couple of weeks. They’d disappear in a matter of hours. We are caramel lovers, and the sea salt idea was genius.
    Debby, “A Feast for the Eyes”

  2. Heather

    I love caramels but have always been afraid to try making them since most recipes use that dreaded word – therometer. I bought one a couple weeks ago but I have yet to take it out of the packaging. Maybe one of these days!

    Where do you get vanilla bean powder?
    Heather recently posted..The Secret Recipe Club: Spiced Oatmeal Raisin CookiesMy Profile

    • Ashley

      Hi Heather. We have an awesome spice market in our downtown area that sells the powder. If you can’t locate it, just use the seeds from one (or two, depending on your flavor preference) vanilla bean, or a bit of vanilla bean paste.

      • Heather

        Thanks! I’ll need to try my secret little spice shop at our farmers market. They always have the most unusual items so hopefully they’ll have the powder. If not, I’ll just use some paste.

  3. Yum Girl

    Ooh, I think you had me at salted caramel! If I may, I’d like to invite you to submit your photos to the new YumGoggle, a photo sharing site with the philosophy that if you worked hard to cook it and photograph it, we should show it off! Hope to see you there soon!
    Yum Girl recently posted..The New YumGoggle!My Profile

  4. Greg

    How long do you let it boil? What temperature do you take it to? I’m presuming you pour it into the foil-wrapped pan but the instructions are missing after step 3.

    • Ashley

      Hi Greg! Whoops, thanks for catching that–small problem with my coding, but it should be there now. Thanks again!

      • Greg

        Ah, yes. It’ all clear now. :^) Thanks!

  5. Hayley @ The Domestic Rebel

    OH MY GOOD GRAVY. These caramels are INCREDIBALLS. You are so adventurous. First yeast, then candy thermometers… you know what oogs me out but I’m so glad you do because you make me want to conquer my fears. These caramels are going to be conquered. Holyyyy yum.
    Hayley @ The Domestic Rebel recently posted..Rolo Pretzel Pumpkin BitesMy Profile

  6. Beth

    Hard to believe you haven’t made caramels before. Yours look perfect!

  7. Shelley C

    Oh goodness… I have a candy thermometer, but am still scared to bust it out too often… but these vanilla caramels make it super tempting… YUM. Awesome choice.
    Shelley C recently posted..Secret Recipe Club Bonus: English MuffinsMy Profile

  8. Jocelyn @BruCrew Life

    I really can’t believe you have never made these before!!! They look absolutely perfect and so professional!!! And salted caramel…I am so glad you went there:-)
    Jocelyn @BruCrew Life recently posted..Trick or Treat TuesdayMy Profile

  9. Lynne

    I apologize for commenting so late. I love what you did with the caramels and your photos are beautiful!
    Lynne recently posted..Black and White Wednesday #54 RoundupMy Profile

  10. Michelle

    Oh my goodness, I love salted caramels. These look divine. I can’t wait to try this recipe. Thanks so much for linking up to Creative Thursday. Can’t wait to see what you share this week! Have a wonderful week.

  11. Ms. Octavia

    I also bought a candy thermometor not to long ago. The first thing I made was banana toffee…then I ventured off to caramel topping for my icecream. I have no fears…I bring it on.



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Interestingly enough, I didn’t grow up with an interest in cooking.  In fact, I informed my mother on multiple occasions that I was not getting an advanced education so I could spend my evenings preparing meals.

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