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Gingerbread Caramels

Gingerbread Caramels

As part of my annual holiday baking extravaganza I decided to mix it up a bit, and include a candy amidst the dozens of cookies I’m shipping out to friends and family. I figured I had made caramels once before, so why not?

Talk about pressure.

Luckily, they turned out beautifully. Especially considering the two pints of cream, 4 cups of sugar, and entire bottle of corn syrup that went into them – I would have been mighty bummed if I had to throw the whole thing out.

Homemade Gingerbread Caramel Candy Recipe

In true holiday spirit, these are gingerbread caramels: with a hearty dose of molasses and spices mixed in. I increased the spices from the original recipe, and added allspice to more closely mimic my grandmothers’s gingerbread recipe. And while the gingerbread flavor comes through loud and clear, if I made these again, I’d add even more. Just for good measure. Maybe a smidge more molasses as well.

How to Make Homemade Caramel Candy

Well, that’s one way to conquer your fear of boiling sugar: with a massive, bubbling vat of it. Seriously, use your biggest pot for this one.

How to Wrap Homemade Caramel Candy

Be warned – this recipe makes A LOT of candy. Which may sound like a good idea until you start wrapping them all. Individually. One. At. A time. Despite the tedium, it’s a perfect recipe if you’re planning to give out a dozen boxes of treats, there’s no crazy math needed to get a whole boatload of candy. However, for just an everyday treat, you may want to start by halving or even quartering this recipe. Half would be just about perfect in a 9-by-13-inch pan, a quarter of the recipe (your middle school math skills will surely come in handy here) would fill an 8-by-8-inch pan.

Gingerbread Caramels

If caramel still makes your heart palpitate, in my (two) attempts thus far I think I’ve learned a few things. Namely:

  • Get a good candy thermometer (I like this one), and calibrate it before you start (stick it in boiling water and make sure it reads 212ºF). Also – if you live above 1,000 feet in elevation, you will need to adjust your temperature goal, about 2º lower per 1000 feet.
  • Temperature matters. The time approximations in candy recipes are just that – approximations. Trust your thermometer above all else. (For example, Martha’s original recipe says it’ll reach the desired temperature in 20 minutes. Yeah right. With that much liquid in the pot it took me more like 40, and other reviews of the recipe mentioned it taking upwards of an hour).
  • Respect the sugar. It’s hot, so don’t be careless, and don’t leave it unattended. But be confident, not fearful (sugar can smell fear, apparently). You can do this!

Finally, just go for it. You’re never going to get over your fear if you don’t try. I know – I let my fear prevent me from making caramel for years, and now? Well, now I’m a caramel-making FIEND. Peach, gingerbread… what’s next? We shall see!

Gingerbread Caramels

Yield: about 120 caramels

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 24 hours

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups (2 pints) heavy cream
  • 2 cups light corn syrup
  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup light/unsulfured molasses
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Line a 12-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. If needed,  use a few dabs of corn syrup to keep the paper firmly in place. In a small bowl, whisk together ginger, cinnamon, allspice, salt, cloves, and pepper until evenly combined; set aside.
  2. In a large pot (emphasis on large here - you want a pot at least twice the volume of the ingredients inside as the mixture will bubble up) combine cream, corn syrup, sugar, butter, and molasses. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Reduce heat to medium-high and continue to boil, stirring frequently, until mixture reaches 246 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 30 to 40 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat; sprinkle spices over top of caramel, stirring until evenly incorporated. Stir in vanilla extract. Immediately pour into prepared pan. Let sit at room temperature, uncovered, for 24 hours without disturbing.
  4. Lifting the caramel out of the pan using the parchment paper as a handle. Using a sharp knife or rotary cutter (lightly buttered or sprayed with cooking spray if needed), cut caramel into 1 1/4-inch strips, and then crosswise into 3/4-inch pieces. Wrap each piece individually in cellophane or waxed paper. Caramels can be stored up to 1 month in airtight containers.

Adapted from Martha Stewart.

Homemade Gingerbread Caramel Candies

Free Printable Gingerbread Caramel LabelsBonus! These gingerbread caramels make fantastic holiday gifts; even better when they’re sporting fancy packaging.

If you’d like to use these labels I designed for your own sweet favors, simply download the printable file below, then print onto full-sheet sticker paper. The clear pillow boxes I used here are perfect caramel containers and can be purchased from ClearBags.com, but you could also use these on small boxes or as a folded header card on a clear cello bag.

Download Now »

Disclaimer: Copyright Love & Olive Oil. For personal use only. If you post about or share these labels, please credit appropriately and do not link directly to the downloadable file but rather to this post. Please do not distribute these downloadable files. Thank you much!

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35 CommentsLeave a Comment →

  1. 1
    Posted On December 9, 2013 at 5:47 am

    Oh what delightful little parcels! And what a clever idea to flavour the caramels with gingerbread! I made everyone Christmas cakes this year, but next year I want to branch out to something a little more exciting… These are so gorgeous – I think that I might have to make caramels :)

    Reply

  2. 2
    Posted On December 9, 2013 at 5:59 am

    I make pecan pralines every year and was looking for something different. These look gorgeous. Thanks for helping me find a new holiday treat to try!

    Reply

  3. 3
    Posted On December 9, 2013 at 9:00 am

    Oh my gosh, there are GORGEOUS!! I think I need to be on your shipping list ;)

    Reply

  4. 4
    Posted On December 9, 2013 at 9:01 am

    this is GENIUS! 

    Reply

  5. 5
    Posted On December 9, 2013 at 9:38 am

    These are SO beautiful Lindsay!  Just love them–so creative and fun.  And definitely the perfect holiday present. 

    Reply

  6. 6
    Posted On December 9, 2013 at 9:41 am

    They’re like….So PERFECT!  See’s Candies called and wants this recipe! They’re more perfect than theirs! And gingerbread. Wow! Pinned!

    Reply

  7. 7
    Posted On December 9, 2013 at 10:03 am

    I don’t know if it gets any better than this!

    Reply

  8. 8
    Posted On December 9, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    I wouldn’t mind getting a bag of these lovelies for the holidays. Yum!

    Reply

  9. 9
    Posted On December 9, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    I loooooved your other caramels. Your recipe was the only one I tried that worked. I am not afraid!

    Reply

  10. 10
    Posted On December 9, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    OH MY HEAVENS! This is a Christmas candy dream come true. :) 

    Reply

  11. 11
    Posted On December 9, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    Oh, these are so pretty!  I love the extra dash of allspice; I bet they make the kitchen smell delicious while cooking!  I’ve been slowly conquering a deadly fear of sugar, so I applaud your use of a ginormous pot of boiling sugar; I think that would have made me break out in hives!

    Reply

  12. 12
    Posted On December 9, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    I always make vanilla caramels for Christmas but I think I might to make these too now.

    Reply

  13. 13
    Posted On December 9, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    Oh gosh these are cute. I love this recipe and have made it before- it sure is delicious huh? I adore those labels as well- I would love to be one of the lucky recipients of these beauties!!

    Reply

  14. 14
    Posted On December 10, 2013 at 3:18 am

    These sounds like a brilliant idea! And maybe a great present aswell! 

    Reply

  15. 15
    Posted On December 10, 2013 at 5:33 am

    These are adorable and your packaging looks so professional.  Such a good idea to mix in with all of the cookies and I love your gingerbread spin on caramels.

    Reply

  16. 16
    Posted On December 10, 2013 at 6:39 am

    I need these in my life!

    Reply

  17. 17
    Posted On December 10, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    They look yummy and so professional when finished. Thanks for the recipe. Carol

    Reply

  18. 18
    Posted On December 10, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    Oh, these look insanely delicious…

    Reply

  19. 19
    Emily
    Posted On December 10, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    I was in the mood to make a seasonal caramel (I’m done with apple cider caramels for the year!) and these inspired me. I made a quarter batch (in an 8×8 pan) and they turned out wonderfully. I grew up making caramels with my mom who always used the ice water method for figuring out when they’re done (when they form a softball in the water) and I can’t really adjust to making caramels any other way (i.e. I’m always thermometer-less). These were done to perfection in about 8-10minutes. I’ll be making these again and again in the coming month…thanks for the recipe!

    Reply

  20. 20
    Posted On December 10, 2013 at 9:40 pm

    What adorable little packages! The recipients should know how lucky they are.  

    Reply

  21. 21
    Jenn
    Posted On December 10, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    Okay so they’re cooling in their baking sheet as I type… I MAY have snuck a piece… DELISH!! I am curious though, why do we need to wait 24 hrs. before wrapping? Couldn’t I do it once they’re completely cooled? Thank you so much for posting this recipe! It went exactly as you described.

    Reply

    • Posted On December 11, 2013 at 4:08 pm

      I assume the 24 hours is just to be sure they are completely set. Even when cooled they may be softer than they should be, which would make them hard to cut. It’s hard to wait, I know!! :)

  22. 22
    Posted On December 12, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    Love love love it! I so want to try this :)

    Reply

  23. 23
    Posted On December 17, 2013 at 8:37 am

    This is such a great idea! So delicious! I’m not crazy about wrapping a ton of little candies though.

    Reply

  24. 24
    Posted On December 18, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    I’ve made caramels once, and they were delicious.  Considering the gingerbread kick I have been on, I bet these are DIVINE!

    Reply

  25. 25
    Posted On December 20, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    I love this idea :) gingerbread caramels sound so amazing!

    Reply

  26. 26
    Robin
    Posted On December 21, 2013 at 12:57 am

    I found you via Pinterest. Just wanted to let you know that your recipe turned out perfectly,  and I’m in the midst of wrapping up the little bastards. I especially appreciated the reminder to use a large pot (I used a stockpot) and to line my pan with parchment, which works so much better than greased tinfoil. Thank you!

    Reply

    • Posted On December 21, 2013 at 8:54 am

      I am so glad they turned out and you enjoyed them! :) And yes – no quick way to wrap that many, unfortunately, but it’s worth it in the end!

  27. 27
    Aubree
    Posted On December 21, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    I also found these from Pinterest and was eager to try! They’re settling now (it’s been about 20 hours) and they still seem like they’re… Unfinished? They’re barely firm and are at room temp. Any ideas? 
    This is my first attempt at making candy and I just want to face plant the pans because they smell soooo good!

    Reply

    • Posted On December 21, 2013 at 5:39 pm

      Unfortunately, if they’re not set now I don’t think they’ll get any better. Could be a number of factors, humidity maybe, or they weren’t cooked to a high enough temp. If they’re just a bit soft, pop them in the fridge. That’ll at least get them firm enough to eat. Or if they’re too soft for that, melt them down and make caramel sauce! Definitely not a complete waste. :)

  28. 28
    Posted On January 23, 2014 at 12:01 am

    Yup – definitely going to make these! I don’t even care that the holidays are over. 

    Reply

  29. 29
    vanessa
    Posted On January 24, 2014 at 7:40 am

    Do you know of a substitute for the corn syrup?

    Reply

    • Posted On January 24, 2014 at 8:26 am

      Golden syrup or another invert sugar would work, but it cannot be omitted as it is what keeps the caramels soft.

  30. 30
    Elizabeth
    Posted On December 12, 2014 at 10:59 pm

    Do you need to grease the parchment paper before pouring the caramel on it? 

    Reply

    • Posted On December 13, 2014 at 8:54 am

      Nope! Parchment on its own won’t stick to these caramels. :)

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