Gingerbread Caramels – Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

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Gingerbread Caramels - Mel's Kitchen Cafe

These gingerbread caramels are absolutely amazing! All the flavors of gingerbread wrapped up in a creamy, chewy, soft, homemade caramel.

These gingerbread caramels just scream HOLIDAYS. And CHRISTMAS. And COZY EVENINGS IN FLANNEL PJS. And DON’T LEAVE ME ALONE WITH THE WHOLE BATCH OR THERE WILL BE TROUBLE.

The gingerbread flavors combined with the creamy caramel are absolutely divine. Step-by-step caramel making tutorial below!

Two gingerbread caramels stacked with bite taken out of top caramel.

How to Make Gingerbread Caramels

I know candy and caramel making at home can see intimidating. But I promise you with all the fervor of my soul that this recipe is doable!

I’ve given lots of details in this definitive guide to homemade caramels on how to make homemade caramels like a rock star, but I’ll walk you through the steps here, too!

The base of these gingerbread caramels is my go-to caramel recipe. It’s the only one I make anymore. I love the method (never scorches!) and I love, love, love the flavor.

The recipe starts with boiling sugar, corn syrup and water until the mixture turns a light amber color.

The most important part of making caramels at home is to ensure no sugar crystals attach to the sides of the pan (if they fall back down into the caramel mixture, the batch can crystallize).

This is easily avoided by brushing down the sides of the pan occasionally and as needed with a pastry brush dipped in water. It only takes a few swipes – you don’t need to babysit it or worry about it too much!

Once the sugar mixture reaches 325 degrees F, add the warm cream, butter and salt. It’s going to bubble and splutter! And the temperature will drop a bit. Totally normal!

At this point, the notable addition for gingerbread caramels is to also add molasses. Just regular, unsulphured molasses (not blackstrap).

The molasses adds a delicious depth of flavor and color.

Pouring molasses into sugar mixture in pan.

Bring the caramel mixture to a gentle boil, stirring constantly. At the beginning the bubbles will be frothy and thin.

Bubbling golden caramel in saucepan.

As the caramel cooks, the color will darken and the bubbles will get bigger.

Pot filled with amber colored hot caramel.

Toward the end, the caramel will be thick and swirly and large bubbles will pop at the surface.

Bubbling pan of hot caramel.

The Perfect Temperature for Homemade Caramels

Cook the caramel to 244-246 degrees F.

Having said that, the exact temperature will actually depend on several factors:

  • your thermometer (and if it is accurate/has been calibrated)
  • your elevation (I live at 2,400 feet elevation)

Here is a post with details on how to calibrate your thermometer and also details on how elevation affects the boiling point of water and what that means for thermometers and candy making. Please read this information and the comments for some helpful info!

Taking the time to calibrate your thermometer will make all the difference in how your homemade caramels turn out!

I’ve long since abandoned traditional candy thermometers in favor of using an instant-read thermometer with a pan clip to attach it to the side of the pot (or sometimes I just grab it and dip it in the caramel when I know it’s getting close). 

I have this Thermopop thermometer from Thermoworks. It’s inexpensive and is very accurate.

Thermometer reading 244 degrees.

Gingerbread Spices

In addition to the molasses, this recipe relies on the following ground spices to give these caramels that perfect gingerbread flavor:

  • ginger
  • cinnamon
  • allspice
  • cloves

Because the spices are prone to clumping when stirred into the hot caramel at the end, after many test batches, I discovered a handy trick to ensure that didn’t happen!

Stir the spices together in a small bowl with the vanilla extract. This creates a paste-type mixture that incorporates beautifully into the caramel.

No clumping means a very, happy Mel!

Pouring vanilla and spices into hot caramel.

How to Cut Homemade Caramels

Once the caramels have cooled in the pan, it’s time to cut and wrap!

The easiest and best way to cut homemade caramels is to use a bench knife aff. link. I gently peel the whole slab of caramel out of the pan and onto a cutting board.

The bench knife makes quick work of cutting the caramels into squares.

One gingerbread caramel square on decorated wood board.

Best Wraps for Caramels

Gone are the days of cutting wax paper into squares. These precut cellophane wrappers aff. link are a game changer!

They twist (and stay twisted) better than the parchment or wax paper precut wrappers.

Gingerbread caramel wrapped in clear cellophane wrapper.

Amazing Gingerbread Caramels

I don’t bring new caramel flavors into my life casually. It’s quite a serious process to decide if a caramel flavor will make the cut (and I’ve made and rejected lots of other caramel flavors over the years – razzleberry, I’m looking at you #tasteslikecoughsyrup #gag #nothanks)!

And I can honestly say that these gingerbread caramels have skyrocketed to the top of my all-time favorite caramels list.

They.are.so.good.

The gingerbread flavors are warm and cozy and delicious without being overpowering. They are the perfect caramel flavor this time of year. I love them so much and hope you do, too!

Several gingerbread caramels on white parchment paper with bite taken out of top caramel.
Four gingerbread caramels on white parchment paper.

Gingerbread Caramels

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • teaspoon ground allspice
  • teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 ½ cups (530 g) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup molasses (not blackstrap)
  • 6 tablespoons (85 g) butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (I use salted butter)
  • ½ teaspoon coarse, kosher salt (use 1/4 teaspoon for table salt)
  • Butter the bottom and sides (get into the corners, too!) of a 8- or 9-inch square baking pan. (Alternately, you can line with parchment and butter the parchment – this may make it easier to pull the slab of caramels out of the pan after they have cooled in order to cut and wrap them.) Set aside.

  • Heat the cream in a saucepan or in the microwave until steaming. Keep warm.

  • In a small bowl, stir together the vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and cloves. Set aside.

  • For the caramels, in a large, heavy-bottomed pot (at least 5- or 6-quarts), stir together the sugar, corn syrup, and water, taking care to not splash the mixture up the sides of the pot. Clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan, if using.

  • Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat WITHOUT STIRRING or moving the pan. As it begins to boil, fill a cup with water and use a pastry brush to wash down the sides of the pan so there are no granules of sugar sticking to the sides of the pan (you probably won’t need to repeat this after the sides have been well-cleaned). This prevents the caramel mixture from crystallizing in later steps.

  • Cook until the boiling sugar turns a light amber color and registers 325 degrees F on the thermometer, about 15-20 minutes.

  • Slowly and carefully pour the warm cream into the caramel. It will bubble and produce a lot of steam! Add the molasses, butter, and salt. The mixture will bubble high during this step but will go down after a few minutes.

  • Begin stirring the caramel with a heatproof rubber spatula, making sure to scrape across the bottom of the pan (but avoid scraping the sides of the pan too much). Continue to cook, stirring constantly and slowly, until the mixture reaches 244-246 degrees F, about 10-20 minutes. Immediately remove from the heat.

  • Off the heat, scrape the vanilla/spices mixture into the caramel and stir gently until well-combined.

  • Pour the caramel mixture into the prepared pan. Let the caramels cool completely at room temperature.

  • Cut the caramel into squares using a sharp knife or bench scraper. Wrap the caramels and store in an airtight container at cool room temperature for up to two weeks.

Elevation: I live at about 2,400 feet elevation. This recipe has been tested at that elevation. You may need to adjust the temperature and/or reading of your thermometer based on the elevation you live at. Here is an article that talks more about calibrating thermometers for candy making and adjusting for elevation. 
Gingerbread Flavor: for more pronounced gingerbread flavor, the spices can be doubled.

Serving: 1 caramel, Calories: 86kcal, Carbohydrates: 13g, Protein: 0.2g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 12mg, Sodium: 14mg, Fiber: 0.01g, Sugar: 13g

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Recipe Source: from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

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