Those soft caramel squares you see at your local grocery store wrapped in crackling plastic provide a moment of sweet escape for an afternoon snack or after dinner treat. Instead of buying those tender caramel squares, learn how to make a batch to serve to family and friends. While it requires patience and careful timing, you can create caramels that stay soft after they have cooled. Add extra flavoring such as chocolate or vanilla to give your soft caramels an extra layer of flavor.
Spray a 10-inch square baking pan with baking spray. Coat the sides and bottom of the pan thoroughly with the oil.
Pour 1 cup of heavy cream, 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup corn syrup and 1/2 tsp. of salt into a large sauce pan.
Cook the ingredients over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves, which should take between eight to 12 minutes. Dip a pastry brush into warm water and brush down the sides of the pan to remove the sugar crystals.
Add 4 tbsp. of unsalted butter. Stir again until the ingredients have combined.
Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Stop stirring and allow the mixture to reach the hardball stage at 250 degrees F. Do not cook the caramel mixture past this point as this can cause it to become brittle when cooled.
Add 1 tsp. of vanilla extract or other flavoring. Stir to combine.
Remove the pan from heat and immediately pour the soft caramel mixture into the prepared pan. Allow the caramels to cool at room temperature for several hours.
Use a sharp, greased knife to cut the cooled caramel into squares. Wrap each piece in cellophane or wax paper. Store the caramels at room temperature to keep them soft.