Monday, December 2, 2013

Salted Pumpkin Caramels with Pepitas

Salted Pumpkin Caramels with Pepitas
Makes approximately 60 1-inch caramels
Salted Pumpkin Caramels with Pepitas 
I am not really one to make candy. However, making these caramels made buying a candy thermometer completely worth the purchase. These chewy caramels taste like a buttery pumpkin-ey spicy autumn-leaves-blowing-in-the-wind kind of goodness. I use maple syrup, which lends a rich maple flavor to the caramels. They really evoke the essence of Thanksgiving and the holiday season. The earthiness of pumpkin, softened with cream, permeates each bite, followed by a whisper of spice, and the delicate crunch of fleur de sel sets it off perfectly and offsets the sweetness of the candy. The toasted pepitas are addictive giving each of the finished caramels a beautifully lacquered, dusty green cap.
  • 2/3 C unsalted pepitas
  • 1½ C heavy cream
  • 2/3 C pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 C white sugar
  • ½ C light corn syrup
  • 1/3 C good maple syrup
  • ¼ C water
  • 4 Tb unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp fleur de sel 

Dry toast pepitas in a skillet until they start to pop. Line the bottom and sides of 8-inch square glass pan with parchment. Butter bottom and sides of pan. Evenly spread toasted pepitas on bottom of pan, on top of the parchment.

Toasted pepitas on the parchment (in a pan)

In a saucepan, combine heavy cream, pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice. Get mixture warm but not to boiling.

In a second heavy bottomed pan with sides at least 4-inches high, combine sugar, corn syrup, maple syrup, and water. Using medium heat, stir until sugars are melted. Bring to a boil until it reaches 244 degree F (soft ball point on candy thermometer), about 20 minutes. Very carefully add the cream and pumpkin mixture, and slowly bring this mixture to 240-degree F. This can take awhile, 30-40 minutes, watching carefully and stirring. Be careful it does not burn on the bottom.  

Cook to EXACTLY 244 degrees!

As soon as it reaches 240-degree, pull it off the heat, and stir in butter and lemon juice. Stir vigorously so that butter is fully incorporated.

Pour mixture into prepared pan. Let cool 30 minutes and sprinkle with coarse fleur de sel over the top. Let caramels fully set – at least 2 hours before using a hot knife to cut them into 1-inch squares and wrapping individually in waxed paper or parchment.

Cut into squares after adding the salt

These caramels are wonderful anytime but particularly around the holidays.  They take some watching when cooking but are worth the time spent.




  1. Your description is true poetry. I’m a huge fan of caramels.

  2. THANK YOU!! I had one in my mouth while writing the description....making the poetry much easier. Wait until you taste them....poetry as well!