The Accidental Scientist: Science of Cooking Exploratorium
Candy Bread Eggs Pickles Meat Seasoning

caramels recipe: Fudge
The caramel color of caramels comes from a reaction between the sugar and the protein in cream. Called the Maillard reaction, it’s the same chemical process that happens when you toast nuts, barbecue meats , or put on self-tanning lotion.
Learn more about caramels and caramelization .

Makes about 1 pound

Recipe Conversions

When making candy, the syrup gets very hot. Kids, don’t try this without the help of an adult!

What Do I Need? .
1 cup heavy cream

Share & Discuss
It seems as though almost all kids love candy and other sweets, but fewer adults do.
Why do you think this is?

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup     Why do I add corn syrup?
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, plus extra for greasing
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
a 10-inch-square pan
 waxed paper

 a heavy, tall-sided saucepan

 a candy thermometer
What Do I Do?

Be sure to use a larger saucepan than you think you will need, one with tall sides. Because this recipe has cream in it, it will tend to bubble up a lot.

1. Prepare your pan by greasing it with butter and/or lining it with waxed paper.


2. Place all ingredients except for the butter and vanilla into the saucepan.


3. Stir the mixture over medium heat with a wooden spoon until the sugar dissolves.


4. Add the 4 tablespoons of butter and stir until it melts and is well-incorporated and the mixture begins to boil. Then cook without stirring until the syrup is above 248° F, the firm-ball stage.

Why do I need to stop stirring after the syrup begins to boil?
What is the firm-ball stage and how can I tell when I’ve reached it?
Why should I wash down the sides of the pan?

5 . Add the vanilla, mix well, then pour the mixture into the pan.


6. Allow to cool, then cut into 1-inch squares.

7. Store in an airtight container at room temperature, between layers of waxed paper.  
What Else Can I Try? .

Don’t be afraid to substitute ingredients, alter amounts and proportions, or scale the recipe up or down. Experimentation can lead to better recipes. In fact, it may be that fudge was invented from a botched batch of caramels!

If you manage to keep your caramels for a while after you make them (1–2 weeks), you may notice that their texture changes—they may become gritty and crunchy around the edges.

Share & Discuss
Share your caramel results .


- - - Candy Home Page - - - Kitchen Lab - - -


© Exploratorium | Use Policy | Privacy Policy