This is the second year I’ve made licorice caramels. Last year they were lightly salted and this year they ended up being vanilla-licorice. I originally found the recipe for salted licorice caramels in the Holiday Special Edition of Bon Appetit. I picked up some black gel coloring and although it did make the caramels dark, it didn’t make them a true black.
I had a bit of a rough time making the caramels this year. After looking at recipes, the common thread was to bring the caramel to a temperature of 246° to 250°. After having to do a reboil, as the caramel was ridiculously soft, I ended up at a temperature of 257°. It was also insanely strong in the licorice department and the salt didn’t help. So upon a reboil, I added a dash of vanilla instead and didn’t add the flakes this time. (I’m wondering if it was my candy thermometer that caused the issue of an overly soft candy.)
If you go with a final temperature of 246° to 250° and find they are too soft, or you go with 257° and they end up rock hard, just plop the mess back into a medium sized sauce pot, add a few tablespoons of water, let melt down, and bring up to your desired temperature. I will continue to update the recipe as I remake it.
Food coloring note: I think a black gel food colouring would have worked much better. It used a combination of 9 drops blue, 9 drops of red, and 6 drops of green and only got a darkish brown.
For gingerbread caramels: when it comes time to add the extract, I added 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves and 1.5 teaspoon rum extract.
- 2/3 cup white sugar
- 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
- 6 tablespoons water
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoon star anise extract
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Food coloring
- Candy thermometer
- Foil line an 8x8" pan, then spray with a non-stick spray.
- In a medium sized sized sauce pot, on medium heat, add the sugar, sweetened condensed milk, molasses, butter, salt, butter, and water.
- Stir with a heatproof rubber spatula until the sugar has dissolved and butter has melted.
- Bring to a boil, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom, until the candy thermometer reads 257°.
- Remove from heat and immediately mix in the extract and food colouring.
- Pour into the prepared pan.
- Lightly cover with saran wrap and let cool for a couple hours.
- Before cutting into desired size, pop into the freezer for about 15 minutes to thoroughly chill.
- Peel off the foil and cut into pieces.
- Wrap individually in parchment paper.