Chocolate-Covered 7-Minute Microwave Caramels
- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted (i use unsalted, use salted for saltier caramels)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup (light in color, not lite)
- 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- chocolate for dipping - i used about 4 ounces each of milk (32%), dark (54%), and darker (72%)
- 1 to 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, optional but recommended
- sprinkles (or jimmies, non-pareils, slivered almonds, coarse sea salt, graham cracker crumbs, etc.), optional for sprinkling
Line an 8-inch or 9-inch square pan with non-stick aluminum foil, and spray very generously with cooking spray; set aside. (For these, I used a 9-inch pan; for the previous recipe I used an 8-inch).
In a very large microwave-safe bowl (nearly the largest your microwave can accommodate because the depth is necessary for the bubbling-up), melt the butter, about 90 seconds. To the melted butter, add the sugars, corn syrup, sweetened condensed milk, and stir until smooth. Place bowl in the microwave and heat on high power for 3 minutes and 30 seconds (3 and 1/2 minutes).
Return bowl to microwave and heat on high power for 3 minutes and 30 seconds (3 and 1/2 minutes). During this time, the mixture will foam, bubble vigorously, and become very active. I recommend standing in front of the microwave and watching it the whole time so you could power off the microwave immediately if necessary. Using a hot pad, remove the bowl from the microwave.
Very carefully add the vanilla extract, standing at arm's length. The mixture will likely still be boiling when you add it, it will bubble up even more. Use extreme caution and stir to incorporate the vanilla as the mixture continues to bubble quite rapidly.
Lift the caramels out using the foil overhang and flip them over, upside-down-cake style, onto a piece of parchment on top of the cutting board. Spray knife or pizza wheel with cooking spray before slicing, repeating as necessary. I made 6 rows of 6, for 36 caramels.
Melt chocolate in a small microwaves-safe bowl, about 1 minute. Stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons shortening for every 4 to 6 ounces of chocolate. This helps keep the chocolate smoother and less prone to becoming gloppy or firming up too fast. I like to work in batches of 4 to 6 ounces of melted chocolate at a time.
Balance 1 caramel on the tines of a fork, slowly lower it into the chocolate, and dip to coat. Don't let it linger in the hot chocolate or it could melt the caramel, and more chocolate than necessary is used. Use another fork to help lift it out of the chocolate and slide it off the fork and onto a parchment-lined large plate. Add sprinkles before chocolate sets up. Repeat process with all remaining caramels, reheating or adding more chocolate and shortening as necessary.