Chocolate-Covered 7-Minute Microwave Caramels
If there’s one thing I like better than homemade caramels, it’s homemade caramels dipped in chocolate.
And decked out with sprinkles. They make everything better.
Last week when I made the Peanut Butter Cup Cookie Dough Crumble Bars and used half of a can of sweetened condensed milk, the other half was just begging to be made into caramels.
So that’s what I did. In seven minutes in the microwave.
They’re based on my January recipe for Seven Minute Microwave Caramels (no-bake, gluten-free) and yes, it really works. No candy thermometer, nothing fussy, tricky, or complicated.
To make them, combine a half can of sweetened condensed milk with four other halves: half cup of melted butter, half cup of corn syrup, half cup of brown sugar, and half cup of granulated sugar. Microwave it all together for 7 minutes, stopping at the halfway point and stirring briefly.
I wrote in detail in the other post about what to do and not do, tricks and tips, and the following is what I believe bears highlighting.
The bowl will get crazy hot. Make sure your bowl is truly heat-safe.
After stirring at 3:30 mark, take a damp paper towel and wipe around the sides of the bowl to remove any gritty sugar that’s clinging. Undissolved sugar granules that are clinging to the sides could result in your entire batch turning grainy. Grainy-ness spreads like wildfire and it will take over the pan like a bad science experiment.
You must line your pan with foil. Use a non-stick foil like this one, and spray it extremely liberally with cooking spray so that you don’t have molten caramel stuck to either your pan, or your foil.
When slicing the caramels, do it on a piece of parchment on top your cutting board. Use a pizza wheel or an extremely sharp knife, sprayed with cooking spray. They stick to everything so take precautions to avoid it.
When melting the chocolate for dipping, I highly recommend using baking chocolate or chocolate sold in bars, not chocolate chips. They’re more resistant to melting, and thicker and gloppier to work with. I used a medley of Trader’s Joe Pound Plus Bars: Milk (32%), Dark (54%), and Darker (72%).
Normally I don’t gravitate to eating or baking with milk chocolate, but with the caramels, the milkiness is very complimentary to their creaminess. Don’t automatically dismiss milk chocolate, thinking darker is better. Milk chocolate really shines here.
I highly recommend a tablespoon or two of shortening stirred in after the chocolate has melted. This helps the chocolate behave more like Candi-Quik, staying smoother longer. It makes any chocolate dipping project so much easier. I keep a small can of it in my pantry for this purpose only.
When dipping, quick baths in the chocolate are preferred to long, luxurious soaks. Balance the caramel on the tines of a fork, lower it, just cover it with chocolate, and get it out. Too long in the warm chocolate not only begins to melt the caramel, but it adds more chocolate than necessary, and you’ll have to melt more chocolate sooner rather than later, and it’s a pain to stop and start.
Place the dipped caramels on a parchment-lined tray or plate, and before the chocolate sets (you have many minutes if using shortening so not a rush), sprinkle them with your favorite jimmies, sprinkles, slivered almonds, coarse sea salt, graham cracker crumbs, dried cranberries, bacon bits or whatever your heart desires. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
There will be chocolate “duck feet” as I call them on the bases of the caramels where it pooled on the parchment. Either nibble it off, break it off with your fingers, or if you want to make them look professional, trim it with a knife.
The caramels are smooth, creamy, buttery, with prominent notes of vanilla.
They’re soft, chewy, rich and simply my favorite caramels ever.
I’m convinced they’re the best possible use of my microwave and 7 minutes of time.
Chocolate-Covered 7-Minute Microwave Caramels
The recipe seems too good to be true because the caramels are made in the microwave in seven minutes, and no candy thermometer is needed. The recipe works and produces the best-tasting caramels I’ve ever had. They’re rich, buttery, creamy, sweet, and softly flavored with vanilla. They’re the perfect balance of soft-yet-firm and just melt in your mouth. I’ll put them up against fancy candy shop caramels. You’ll never need another candy shop caramel or recipe for homemade caramels after trying these. And they’re so easy.
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted (I use unsalted, use salted for saltier caramels)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup light corn syrup (light in color, not lite)
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
chocolate for dipping – I used about 4 ounces each of Milk (32%), Dark (54%), and Darker (72%)
1 to 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, optional but recommended
sprinkles (or jimmies, non-pareils, slivered almonds, coarse sea salt, graham cracker crumbs, etc.), optional for sprinkling
- This is a fast-moving recipe once it begins. Have everything in place including a large oven mitt because the bowl becomes extremely hot. Make sure your bowl is truly microwave-safe because it will get very hot. Clear out a space in your refrigerator in advance for placing the hot pan to cool. Do not use lite or reduced fat ingredients; use real butter, corn syrup, and sweetened condensed milk. Send small children out of the kitchen while making these and fully concentrate on the recipe because the mixture is incredibly hot.
- Line an 8-inch or 9-inch square pan with non-stick aluminum foil, and spray very generously with cooking spray; set aside. (For these, I used a 9-inch pan; for the previous recipe I used an 8-inch).
- In a very large microwave-safe bowl (nearly the largest your microwave can accommodate because the depth is necessary for the bubbling-up), melt the butter, about 90 seconds. To the melted butter, add the sugars, corn syrup, sweetened condensed milk, and stir until smooth. Place bowl in the microwave and heat on high power for 3 minutes and 30 seconds (3 and 1/2 minutes).
- Using a hot pad, remove bowl from the microwave, scrape down the sides incredibly well, and stir. Very important – it won’t appear that much of anything is on the sides but if there is sugar or sugar granules that are not dissolved and fully incorporated into the bubbling mixture and they remain uncooked, they can cause graininess or crystallization in the finished caramels. Uncooked sugar crystals have regrowth that spreads and can take over a whole pan, rendering it a grainy and inedible. After scraping down the sides of the bowl very well, wipe around the sides using a damp paper towel, making sure no sugar granules are clung to the sides.
- Return bowl to microwave and heat on high power for 3 minutes and 30 seconds (3 and 1/2 minutes). During this time, the mixture will foam, bubble vigorously, and become very active. I recommend standing in front of the microwave and watching it the whole time so you could power off the microwave immediately if necessary. Using a hot pad, remove the bowl from the microwave.
- Very carefully add the vanilla extract, standing at arm’s length. The mixture will likely still be boiling when you add it, it will bubble up even more. Use extreme caution and stir to incorporate the vanilla as the mixture continues to bubble quite rapidly.
- Pour the bubbling mixture into the prepared pan, cover pan with aluminum foil, and place it in the refrigerator to firm up for at least four hours, or overnight, before slicing caramels.
- Lift the caramels out using the foil overhang and flip them over, upside-down-cake style, onto a piece of parchment on top of the cutting board. Spray knife or pizza wheel with cooking spray before slicing, repeating as necessary. I made 6 rows of 6, for 36 caramels.
- Melt chocolate in a small microwaves-safe bowl, about 1 minute. Stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons shortening for every 4 to 6 ounces of chocolate. This helps keep the chocolate smoother and less prone to becoming gloppy or firming up too fast. I like to work in batches of 4 to 6 ounces of melted chocolate at a time.
- Balance 1 caramel on the tines of a fork, slowly lower it into the chocolate, and dip to coat. Don’t let it linger in the hot chocolate or it could melt the caramel, and more chocolate than necessary is used. Use another fork to help lift it out of the chocolate and slide it off the fork and onto a parchment-lined large plate. Add sprinkles before chocolate sets up. Repeat process with all remaining caramels, reheating or adding more chocolate and shortening as necessary.
- Place caramels in the refrigerator to firm up for at least 2 hours, or overnight. Caramels will keep airtight in the refrigerator for many months. I prefer to store them in the fridge rather than at room temperature. Note that because microwaves, ingredients, and climates vary, there could be variances in cook times; for my microwave 7 minutes is perfect.
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Seven Minute Microwave Caramels (no-bake, gluten-free) – The original recipe with more step-by-step shots and more how-to details
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Do you like caramels? Do you make your own caramel sauce or caramels? Or homemade candy?
Share links to your favorite recipes.