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fleur de sel agave caramels

December 20, 2010

Last week was the week of holiday parties both out on the town and at people homes. This year, I decided I wanted to branch out and do a little something different from the usual wine in hand present and thought that I would try my hand at candy making.  I’ve never used my candy thermometer for much and thought this would be the perfect use for it not to mention that I’ve been jonesin’ to make some caramels ever since making the burnt caramel sauce awhile back.

With that said, the reason that I held back on making them for so long is because every single recipe I’ve seen for caramels involves corn syrup and while I’m not going to go all Michael Pollan here, I try to avoid this stuff whenever possible.  So, when I saw this recipe for a fleur de sel caramel involving agave nectar, it was a done deal.  The host of our next Christmas party was getting these.   (Spoiler alert: she loved them)

If I can leave you with any piece of advice on making these it would be to do this the night before.  The setting period is what really broke me on this.  You would think I would’ve learned by now that shortcuts don’t always work out so well.  I had about 20 minutes between the time I took the caramel off the heat to when I needed to LEAVE for this party.  Needless to say, it wasn’t pretty nor was it as great as it could’ve been–thank god for the freezer and a husband who’s willing to pull the car up and wait while his wife runs around like a chicken without her head on trying to get it together.

fleur de sel agave caramels
from Piece of Cake


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup light agave nectar (I used dark and all was good)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse fleur de sel salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 2 teaspoons dark rum
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or extract (see note)


  1. Line an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a heavy medium saucepan over medium high heat, melt together the butter, sugar, cream and agave nectar.
  3. Bring it to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
  4. Clip a candy thermometer to the pot and reduce the heat to low, stirring occasionally, until the caramel reaches 248 degrees (this ended up taking me the better part of 45 minutes, so plan accordingly.)
  5. As you see the temperature creeping towards 248, stir in the salt and the rum.
  6. When the caramel hits 248, pull the pot from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
  7. Pour the caramel into the prepared pan set over a wire rack and let it cool, undisturbed, at room temperature overnight, or if you’re in a rush, 30 minutes at room temperature and another 30 minutes or so in the refrigerator until the caramel is very firm. (Or if you’re me, 25 minutes in the freezer and then live with the consequences)
  8. Line a cutting surface with a sheet of parchment paper and turn the caramel slab out onto it.
  9. Use a large sharp knife to cut the caramel into neat, even pieces.
  10. Lightly sprinkle the caramels with more sea salt and wrap them in squares of parchment or waxed paper.
  11. Store at room temperature.
16 Comments leave one →
  1. December 24, 2010 2:27 pm

    Ha, I like your style…you sound like me. You have gorgeous photos! 🙂

    • December 24, 2010 3:36 pm

      Thanks! I’m actually preparing to give them a go again right now, this time using a slightly more organized approach this time. Let’s see if “planning” is all it’s cracked up to be.

  2. December 28, 2010 9:50 am

    There is NOTHING better than caramel and salt!

    • December 28, 2010 11:02 am

      I don’t know, I think adding some dark chocolate to the mix might bump it up a notch in my book. That will be the next round 🙂

  3. moirayoung permalink
    December 28, 2010 1:25 pm

    Oh my. Yum! Have you considered topping it /covering it with chocolate?

    • December 28, 2010 2:10 pm

      Absolutely! The next time I make this, I’ll definitely try to dip at least half the batch in dark chocolate and save the sprinkling of salt for the outer shell. Maybe for New Year’s in fact. Will make sure to post to let everyone know how it goes.

  4. December 29, 2010 12:42 am

    Wow it looks like if I made this at home, I wont stop eating this one. It looks so yummy!


    • December 29, 2010 9:55 am

      That’s why they make such great gifts! Enjoy a couple of the end pieces at home and then give the rest of them to avoid the temptation of eating the whole pan!

  5. January 2, 2011 10:25 am

    What a great gift idea! I need to start scouring grocery stores around here for some fleur de sel.

    • January 3, 2011 10:35 am

      If you can’t find fleur de sel, feel free to substitute a nice coarse sea salt. The only thing that wouldn’t really work is your everyday table salt.

  6. January 18, 2011 9:01 am

    How brilliant to use agave nectar!! I am also bothered by using corn syrup, although not that bothered that it has stopped me from making caramel before. It’s great to have an alternative. I have made a wonderful salted chocolate caramels before from a great epicurious recipe. Wonder if agave nectar would work in these?

    • January 18, 2011 12:51 pm

      Only one way to find out I say! I definitely think they would work. I’ve told myself that I would give this recipe a go, but the next time dip them in dark chocolate and then sprinkle in salt. Haven’t gotten around to that though, work in progress. If you end up trying it out, let me know–would love you know how it works.

  7. Missy permalink
    November 28, 2011 6:03 pm

    I’ve been making Grandma’s caramels for years, cringing every time as I pour in the corn syrup. My family actually liked these better : ) Thanks!

    • November 28, 2011 7:18 pm

      I’m so happy to hear that! I’ve also tried with brown rice syrup with equally delightful results in case you’re looking to mix it up further.

  8. December 5, 2011 12:56 am

    Can i discard the dark rum? or is it an essential ingredient?

    • December 5, 2011 10:29 am

      I find that the rum adds a nice dimension to the caramels, but having made them once without it, I can assure you that they are still delightful if you skip it. Happy caramel-making!

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