These Black Licorice Caramels are a cross between black licorice and soft buttery caramels. They’re easy to make, and are a perfect gift for the black licorice lover in your life.
My dear, sweet, friend and neighbor, Betty, brought me a batch of theses black licorice caramels recently when I had family in town for my nephew’s funeral. She’s one of the most thoughtful people I know, and always has a smile on her face.
She’s a remarkable woman. She has the energy of someone half her age and always has a project she’s working on. Recently, she leveled the ground in her yard for a shed she was having delivered.
We share a love of baking, cooking and of course eating sweet treats. My family loved the black licorice caramels she made us so much that I asked her if I could come over to her house and have her teach me how to make them.
I’ve always been a little bit afraid of making candy at home because I tend to burn myself on the hot syrup. But this recipe really isn’t scary and neither of us burned ourselves.
The caramels are easy to make. Betty’s been making them for over 20 years. She’s tweaked the recipe over the years and prefers to add a lot more anise oil than the original recipe. She uses 1 ½ tablespoons of anise oil, which I thought was just the right amount too.
She prefers not to use a thermometer when she cooks the caramels, and use the cold water candy test to cook the syrup until it’s at a firm soft ball stage – a firm-ball 242°F (sea-level). That would make it about 232° at my altitude in Salt Lake about 4,000 feet, or 238° for a firm caramel. Betty also likes letting the caramels set up overnight before cutting them.
Betty cuts the caramels in to about 1 inch squares. She then shapes them in to a rectangle as she rolls them up in waxed paper. She came over to my house the day after we made the caramels and showed me how to roll them. It goes pretty fast when you get the hang of it, especially when there are two of you rolling.
You can cut the caramels in the pan, but it’s easier to take them out of the pan to cut them. I used a long watermelon knife to cut them in to rows. My rows weren’t very straight, but I just cut the pieces longer on the skinny rows. The caramels were easy to shape in to a rectangle as you’re wrapping them.
I thought about sharing some of this second batch of black licorice caramels with my neighbors, but my family gobbled them up so quickly there weren’t any left to share. Guess I’ll have to make more soon.
Black Licorice Caramels
- 1 cup butter
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 ½ cups Karo light corn syrup
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon black paste food coloring
- 1 ½ tablespoons anise oil
- Butter a 9×13” glass dish with buttered foil.
- In a large heavy bottomed pan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in sugar, milk, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Continue cooking over medium-low heat, until a small amount of syrup dropped into cold water forms a *firm soft pliable ball, about 238°.
- Remove from heat. Add food coloring and anise oil, and mix until the oil is completely incorporated. Pour into a buttered 9×13” glass pan. Let caramels cool over night.
- Remove caramel from the pan, cut into 1 inch pieces. Wrap in 5×4 inch pieces of wax paper and twist the ends to enclose the caramel.
These are amazing!! I just made these for the first time. Definitely a keeper!!
I want to make these! Just wondering – is it anise OIL or EXTRACT? One recipe I saw said to use only 1/4 tsp. Oil to sub for 1 tsp. Extract.
It’s an oil and you’ll love the flavor!
Do you really use a tablespoon and a half of anise oil? It’s my understanding that is a lot stronger than anise extract, and most recipes I’m seeing say to use one or two TEASPOONS of extract.
Yep, that’s how much I use and love it, feel free to use less if you prefer.
What color would they be without the food coloring? I tend to have allergies to food coloring so would probably try to make them without.
You could definitely make them without the food coloring. They would be a caramel color.
If you use parchment paper instead of wax paper they shouldn’t stick.
Thanks for the tip!
I make these regularly with and without the licorice flavor. This recipe is by far the easiest and best I’ve found. Thanks for putting it out there!!!!
That’s great to hear – thanks Shelley!
My carmels always stick to the tin foil , I used wax paper they also stuck please help me
Hi Norma – I researched the problem and others said humid can cause a sticking problem. Is it humid where you’re at? Also, someone recommended these https://amzn.to/2whzfRl (affiliate link) and said their caramels don’t stick to them. You could also try cellophane. https://amzn.to/39iDiMd
I have been making these for years….I simply butter a 9X13 and have never had any problems. I tried the buttered foil and all of the licorice stuck.
I’ve been making these little gems since 2001. They were in
better Homes and Gardens Grand Holiday Cooking in 1991 and later in the December 1991 BH&G Magazine.