Soft festive buttery and minty, these Peppermint Caramels will simply melt in your mouth, and they won’t stick to your teeth! This candy recipe makes fantastic gifts for friends and family.
The bright flavor of mint enhances the buttery sweetness of the caramels, and when you combine these two flavors, they’re pure holiday magic.
These impressive candies are easier to make than you realize, and in no time, you’ll have a big batch to set out at a holiday party, add a few to Christmas cookie trays, or load into gift bags for neighbors, friends, and family.
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I’ve always considered myself a baker. And even more precise, I love candy making. Bringing sugar to the right temperature and making an amazing confection is something that is quickly becoming a lost skill.
And you know what, it really isn’t that hard to make delicious candy. The biggest trick is having a candy thermometer and having the patience to wait for the candy to come to temperature.
Want to learn more about candy and check out some great recipes? I have some great ones to try! Old Fashioned Cream Caramels (with some great candy making tips and tricks in the post), Brown Sugar Fudge, Peppermint Mocha Candy Cookies (which don’t even require a thermometer), Mocha Fudge, Candied Pecans, and Coconut Gumdrops.
Pro tips on how to make great caramels
Caramels are really just two about bringing your main ingredients of sugar and dairy to the correct temperature.
Of course, you can add things to your sugar and dairy like flavorings and corn syrup to help keep the sugar from crystallizing and creating a smoother texture.
As you cook the sugar it creates that caramel color and flavor, darkening as you cook it longer.
So, let’s look at the steps to make this caramel. Be sure to check the printable recipe card lower for full ingredient amounts.
Line an 8-inch square or 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, butter the parchment paper, and set aside.
You’ll notice in the pictures that I didn’t line the pan with the parchment paper. Trust me on this, it’s way easier to line it than to try and get the caramel out of the pan!
In a 1-quart saucepan, combine cream, sweetened condensed milk, and salt. Place over low heat and let warm but do not allow to boil, while cooking the sugar.
Warming the milks will help keep the caramel from seizing when you add them to the hot candy later on.
You’ll want to use a high-sided 4-quart or larger saucepan. And you want the thermometer to sit ½ to 1 inch above the bottom of the pot.
Combine the corn syrup, water, and sugar in the large saucepan. Place over high heat and stir until well mixed. If sugar crystals are present, wash down sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush.
Clip on candy thermometer.
The candy thermometer is a great tool to help you make sure you get to the correct temp. there are a couple of types of thermometers, the clip on (that you see in my pictures) and instant read thermometers.
You can go fancy with the clip on and have one with an alarm or an app that pairs to your phone. Or you can go cheap, and with the one that the grocery store sells that has an old school read out.
But I also use the instant read thermometer as a more precise back up to the clip on. The clip on tells me when the temperature is getting close, and then I’ll check with the instant read.
Make sure that your candy thermometer isn’t touching the bottom of the pan, or the reading will be off (too hot).
Reduce heat to medium. Bring to a boil, and cook to 250° F or hard-ball stage. Stir in butter and warm cream-milk mixture. The temperature of the candy will decrease. Stirring constantly, continue cooking over medium heat until candy thermometer reaches 244° F or firm-ball stage.
Remove from heat and add peppermint oil or extract (more on oil vs. extract later), stir well.
Pour into prepared pan. Cool. Once the pan has cooled enough to touch, place it in the fridge overnight. Cut candy into 1-inch pieces.
Also, now’s a good time to garnish them with crushed peppermint candies, flaky salt, or colored sprinkles if you want.
Wrap in waxed paper or dip in melted chocolate. Caramels want stick together if left side-by-side, so wrap them up.
Wrapped caramels can be stored at room temperature for a couple of weeks. I prefer to store them in the fridge for up to a month so they don’t get too soft.
Peppermint oil vs. peppermint extract
Peppermint oil and peppermint extract come from the same plant. The oil is very concentrated, while peppermint extract is diluted with alcohol and other liquid ingredients, so extracts are less potent.
Make sure your peppermint oil it is edible. And, there are even differences in concentration in oils.
Peppermint oil and peppermint extract can both be used in cooking. The advantage of using oil over extract is that the alcohol in the extract quickly evaporates when heated, and when the alcohol burns off, so does a lot of the peppermint flavor.
Peppermint oil stays intact in the heat. Which is why I’ve chosen to create this recipe recommending oil over extract.
Peppermint oil is more expensive, however.
Never ingest straight pure peppermint oil, which can be toxic in large doses. Never give peppermint oil to small children, and, pregnant and nursing women should also avoid it.
I often get asked, “what is whipping cream?”.
Whipping cream (also called light whipping cream) contains 30 to 34% fat, and can be found on the dairy aisle of the grocery store right next to the cartons of heavy whipping cream.
It is not a can of squirty whipped cream.
Check out my post, what to do with leftover cream, for more info on types of dairy and what to do with them.
The corn syrup is used in this recipe to prevent crystallization of the sugar and create a smooth softer caramel. The recipe will not be as good without it; please don’t leave it out.
Keep in mind that light corn syrup in the recipe is not the same as high fructose corn syrup.
Want a little extra flavor bump of salted caramel? Feel free to use salted butter in the recipe and a big pinch of salt on top of the caramels.
How to temper chocolate
Tempered chocolate is nice and shiny, and feels firm and crisp when you bite into it. It also melts smoothly in your mouth, allowing you to fully enjoy the flavor.
Chop up your chocolate into smaller pieces, and don’t be tempted to use chocolate chips, they’re designed not to melt.
Microwave two thirds of the chopped chocolate in a liquid measuring cup at 50 % power, stirring every 30 seconds, until nearly melted. Stir in the remaining 1/3 of the chocolate until melted and smooth. Return the chocolate to the microwave if not fully melted, and heat in 5 second blasts, stirring between each one, until smooth.
Drop one caramel into the melted chocolate. Using forks, gently flip the caramel to coat it. Lift it out using a fork and allow the excess chocolate to drip off. Place the dipped candy on a parchment paper lined tray.
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via the pin.
- 2 cups whipping cream
- ½ cup sweetened condensed milk
- Pinch kosher salt
- 2 cups light corn syrup
- ½ cup water
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter cut into smaller pieces
- 10 drops peppermint oil or ½ teaspoon peppermint extract
- Melted chocolate if desired
- Line an 8-inch square or 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, butter the parchment paper, and set aside.
- In a 1-quart saucepan, combine cream, sweetened condensed milk, and salt. Place over low heat and let warm but do not allow to boil, while cooking the sugar.
- In a 4-quart or larger saucepan, combine corn syrup, water, and sugar. Place over high heat and stir until well mixed. If sugar crystals are present, wash down sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush.
- Clip on candy thermometer. Reduce heat to medium. Bring to a boil, and cook to 250° F or hard-ball stage. Stir in butter and warm cream-milk mixture. The temperature of the candy will decrease. Stirring constantly, continue cooking over medium heat until candy thermometer reaches 244° F or firm-ball stage.
- Remove from heat and add peppermint oil or extract, stir well.
- Pour into prepared pan. Cool. Once the pan has cooled enough to touch, place it in the fridge overnight. Cut candy into 1-inch pieces. Wrap in waxed paper or dip in melted chocolate.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations, and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary based on brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes, and more.