chocolate espresso caramels

Chocolate Espresso Caramels – combining three wonderful flavours into one delicious treat.

Chocolate Espresso Caramels – combining three wonderful flavours into one delicious treat.

Apparently I’m on a caramel kick right now. A few weeks ago I made some coconut caramels, and then I just made these amazing chocolate coconut caramels – they were seriously good! Deep, rich flavour, not too sweet. I was sad to see the end of them. I wanted more. So I obviously had to make them again, right? But maybe some sort of variation. It’s the chocolate caramel that I was really loving, so I decided to skip the coconut and do something different with the caramel itself. What else goes well with chocolate? Pfft, silly question – pretty much anything, right? How about espresso? YES. 

Chocolate Espresso Caramels – combining three wonderful flavours into one delicious treat.

I’ve made espresso caramels before by just taking a wild guess at how much espresso powder to add (and I totally lucked out – the flavour was great). That was a completely different recipe, though. I didn’t want the espresso component here to be too subtle, but I also didn’t want it to overwhelm the chocolate. I decided to go with the same amount (a tablespoon) – if nothing else, it’s a good starting point, right?

And my first impression was the espresso was a biiiiit too strong. It’s a good espresso caramel – but for a chocolate espresso caramel, I thought the chocolate was getting a bit overwhelmed. I ran them by a friend of mine and she said the same thing. However, two other friends both said it needs more espresso! So, your mileage may vary. Next time I try this, I’ll cut it down to 2 teaspoons (I’ve noted this in the recipe below as well). But you may prefer the full tablespoon (or more!).

Chocolate Espresso Caramels – combining three wonderful flavours into one delicious treat.

These could probably be made with real espresso too, since as the caramel cooks, the excess moisture is cooked away, leaving just the flavour behind. But I have no idea how much you’d use – it would take some experimenting. Or you could use some coffee extract if you have it. Personally, I always have some instant espresso on-hand for baking – it’s so convenient and easy to measure to control the flavour. I’ve used it in several cookie recipes, as well as brownies and cakes.

Chocolate Espresso Caramels – combining three wonderful flavours into one delicious treat.

I modified the original cooking instructions for this recipe somewhat. The original instruction is to heat the sugars to 248°F before adding the rest of the ingredients, but I took it much further and fully caramelized the sugars in the first heating stage. I went into more depth on explaining this in the chocolate coconut caramels post if you’d like to read more about it. Essentially, this is a technique I learned at a caramel-making course and will give you a less-sweet, more caramelly caramel. If you’d prefer something sweeter (totally personal preference!), feel free to refer back to the original recipe on Martha Stewart’s site.

Chocolate Espresso Caramels – combining three wonderful flavours into one delicious treat.

chocolate espresso caramels

<h2>chocolate espresso caramels</h2>

Adapted from Martha Stewart's site. I cut the original recipe in half and modified the cooking instructions considerably, plus I skipped the coconut and added espresso. Feel free to check out the original recipe. Note: when cooking sugar, subtract 2°F from the target temperature for every 1000 ft above sea level.


1 cup heavy cream

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon instant espresso or espresso powder

1-1/8 cups sugar

5/8 cup light corn syrup

1/4 cup water

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate

Line an 8" square pan with parchment paper. If you don't have one, a 9" square will work, but the caramels will be a bit flatter. There's no need to oil the parchment as the caramels shouldn't stick. Set aside.

Combine the cream, vanilla extract, and espresso powder in a medium-sized saucepan and heat until scalding. Remove from the heat, add the chopped chocolate and allow to sit for a minute. Stir the chocolate until it has completely melted and the mixture is smooth, and then set aside (you've essentially made a ganache here).

Choose a large (3 to 4 quart) heavy-weight saucepan to cook your caramel in – it needs to be large enough to accommodate the bubbling up that will happen (it will bubble up a lot), but deep is better than wide so your thermometer will be covered by enough volume to register an accurate temperature (most digital thermometers have a guideline indicating minimum depth).

Combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water in this large saucepan and heat over medium heat until the sugar has melted. Raise heat to high and bring to a boil. Using a pastry brush and some cold water, brush down the sides of the pot to ensure any sugar crystals that may be clinging to the edge are melted. Alternately, you could put the lid on the pot and let it boil for a couple minutes covered – the steam that builds up under the lid will also melt away the sugar crystals. Do not stir the sugar at this point. Stirring may cause recrystallization. Instead, just gently swirl the pan a few times.

Continue to cook the sugar until it's amber coloured and it begins to give off a bit of smoke – the bubbles should have reduced in size by this point too. Remove the pot from the burner and allow to sit and continue to caramelize off-heat until desired level of caramelization is reached. A lighter colour will give you a sweeter caramel, while a darker colour will give you a more bitter caramel. It's totally a matter of taste (I cooked mine to about the colour of a shiny penny).

Once you're happy with the colour, pour the cream mixture into the sugar and add your thermometer to the pot. Bring to a boil and add the butter.

Continue cooking over high heat, whisking constantly until it reaches 248°F. Normally I'll cook my caramels to a slightly higher temperature because the humidity is usually quite high in Vancouver, but 248°F worked perfectly for me.

Once it reaches temperature, you need to work quickly as the temperature will continue to rise.

Remove from the heat and stir in the salt. Pour the mixture into your pan – carefully, it's very hot. Don't scrape the bottom or sides of the pot in case there are some hard bits (I scraped this stuff off onto a separate piece of parchment for myself).

Allow to sit for at least a couple hours, preferably overnight. If you like, you can sprinkle a bit of fleur de sel on top of the caramel after it's cooled for 5 or 10 minutes (if you do it too soon, it will just melt into the caramel, but if you wait too long, it won't stick).

Once the caramel has set, you can cut it into squares or rectangles and wrap in pieces of parchment paper or wax paper. If you're lazy like me, you can buy them pre-cut.

Comments: 28

  1. jakia July 10, 2014 at 10:50 am Reply

    Hi! Thanks for the recipe. Is the cups of sugar 1-1/8 cups? What does this mean?

    Thanks again


    • laurel @ wannacomewith July 10, 2014 at 11:34 am Reply

      I know, it’s a kind’ve weird amount. It’s because I cut the original recipe in half. It’s one full cup of sugar plus HALF of a quarter cup of sugar. Does that make sense?

  2. dina July 11, 2014 at 6:10 am Reply

    these look so delicious!

  3. Lokness @ The Missing Lokness July 11, 2014 at 7:53 am Reply

    These caramels look amazing! Beautifully done! The flavors combo can’t be any better! I bet only one won’t be enough. Pinned! 🙂

  4. Tami July 12, 2014 at 3:07 pm Reply

    Sound delicious! How do you cut them so beautifully?

    • laurel @ wannacomewith July 12, 2014 at 3:33 pm Reply

      Thanks Tami! I use a very sharp chef’s knife. One that’s long enough to cut a row in a single straight cut. 🙂

  5. Lauren December 12, 2014 at 7:10 am Reply

    for larger quantities, can this recipe be doubled?

    • laurel @ wannacomewith December 12, 2014 at 9:04 am Reply

      Hi Lauren! Funny you should ask – I actually cut the original recipe in half. So yes, absolutely. Doubling this will just take it back up to the original quantities!

      Just be sure that your pot is big enough to handle it – remember, this will bubble up a lot. I used a 4-quart saucepan for this recipe as-is and it bubbled up to around the halfway mark. So a doubled recipe MIGHT fit in this size pot, but it also might boil over. Personally, I’d go for a larger size pot.

      Good luck!

  6. Brea December 23, 2014 at 7:13 am Reply

    what if I can only find instant coffee not espresso?

    • laurel @ wannacomewith December 23, 2014 at 9:08 am Reply

      Hi Brea!

      Instant coffee will totally work, it just won’t have quite the same flavour as espresso. Try to find a dark roast if you can, for deepest flavour. 🙂

  7. Jessica January 28, 2015 at 9:50 am Reply

    I see that Martha’s recipe adds the espresso right at the end. Just wondering why you added the espresso with the cream while it heated? Will this change the intensity of the espresso or does it just help dissolve the granules? I’ll be making these myself and I’m not sure which method would be better.

    Thanks 🙂

    • laurel @ wannacomewith January 28, 2015 at 9:53 am Reply

      You nailed it – it was just to help dissolve the granules. I was worried that by adding them at the end you might end up with little pockets of espresso. If you decide to do that method, please let me know how it turns out! 🙂

      • Jessica January 31, 2015 at 4:04 pm Reply

        I made the caramels following your recipe, except adding the espresso right at the very end. They turned out great! No pockets of espresso and the little granules melted in your mouth just like the caramel, not gritty or crunchy at all. I especially like the way they look. Being able to see the espresso adds some visual interest. Thanks for the recipe! 🙂

        • laurel @ wannacomewith January 31, 2015 at 4:20 pm Reply

          Thanks for getting back to me! And that’s a good point about the visual component. I should have known Martha knows what she’s doing! 🙂

  8. […] chocolate espresso caramels […]

  9. Tarrah December 9, 2015 at 8:08 pm Reply

    Very tasty but this method of double boiling the sugar creates a very hard caramel that is almost a hard candy but not quite. Be aware of this if you like a soft chewy caramel! I should have trusted my instincts… I only cooked it to soft ball stage after adding the ganache which was a good call.

    • laurel @wannacomewith December 10, 2015 at 11:01 am Reply

      Hi Tarrah. I’m glad you caught it before you ended up overcooking. I don’t find these caramels hard at all (in fact you can see in some of the pictures they’re spreading slightly after cutting). Your location could have an effect on how these turn out – I’m pretty much right at sea level, and if you’re above sea level, you should cook to a lower temperature (as noted above the recipe) otherwise it could end up too hard. But I also live in an area with high humidity, so I generally have fewer problems with candies being too hard anyway. Thanks for your comment!

  10. Delicious Coffee Desserts - 1st in Coffee December 15, 2015 at 1:26 pm Reply

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  11. Edina June 25, 2016 at 1:47 pm Reply

    These look soo beutifully delicious! Definitely want to make it some time. Just wondering if there is anything the corn syrup could be substituted with?

    • laurel @wannacomewith June 25, 2016 at 1:59 pm Reply

      Hi Edina! If you can’t find corn syrup, you can use glucose syrup (they’re really the same thing). If you’re worried about using corn syrup because of health concerns, don’t worry – the little bottles of corn syrup you buy in the grocery store are totally not the same thing as High Fructose Corn Syrup. There’s an article here at the Kitchn explaining the difference.

      The purpose of corn syrup (or glucose syrup) here is to help prevent the sugar from recrystallizing, which can happen easily (and yes, has happened to me). I hope you try the recipe and enjoy it 🙂

  12. Skaps September 1, 2016 at 8:07 pm Reply

    These look delicious. Just wanted to clarify when does one add the ganache to the caramel?
    Also does one add the espresso at this point n then put the whole mixture into the lined pan.

    • laurel @wannacomewith September 5, 2016 at 10:48 am Reply

      Hi Skaps. Sorry for the late reply – I’ve been neglecting my blog the past week or so because I just found out I have to move. 🙁

      Sorry if the recipe wasn’t clear. The espresso powder is combined with the cream at the very beginning, and then the chocolate is added to that to make the ganache. After you heat the sugar and corn syrup until it’s amber-coloured, the cream mixture (or ganache) is added. I hope this makes more sense! Let me know if you still have any questions. 🙂

  13. 23 Incredible Coffee Desserts | Sing Viral January 19, 2017 at 10:44 pm Reply

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  14. […] combination of deep, rich caramel that’s coated in chocolate. Sprinkle these Chocolate Espresso Caramels with a little salt and you have died and gone to […]

  15. Marie claire December 5, 2017 at 9:49 am Reply

    Hi . I did this caramel recipe as intructions and temperatures . But i ended with a very tasty but soft caramel. That i can roll in my hands but it melts again in the plate. Where could be my mistake . Thanks .

    • laurel @wannacomewith December 14, 2017 at 11:55 am Reply

      Hi Marie Claire – have you made caramels before? They can be tricky with temperature. It’s possible your thermometer is slightly off, in which case you could just try cooking them a couple degrees higher and see if that helps. The higher you go, the more moisture is removed and the harder the caramels will be. If you go too high, they’ll be too hard to chew though. In the meantime, you could re-melt what you’ve made and cook it a little higher (no need to throw it away). Or you can melt it and serve it over ice cream ?

      If you’re feeling brave, you can forget about the thermometer altogether and go by texture. I don’t feel confident enough in my abilities to attempt this yet, but I know a lot of people swear by this method.

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