Why Won't My Caramels Harden?

by Deborah
(Lansing, MI)

Why won't my caramels harden?

I made homemade caramels for the first time. The recipe said to get the temp on the candy thermometer to 240 degrees. Got it up to 235 and wouldn't go any higher.

They've been sitting in the garage in Michigan for 2 days and it still won't harden.

Can I cook it over again?

Hi Deborah,

Yes, you can try melting down your caramel and cooking it a bit longer. You do need to get the temperature higher if you want them to set more firmly - between 240 and 245 degrees F.

Let us know if you are able to rescue the caramels and get them to harden the second time around.


Comments for Why Won't My Caramels Harden?

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Dec 14, 2021
Cold Water Test NEW
by: Angie from Chocolate Candy Mall

Have you tested your thermometer to see if it was accurate? You can also use the cold water test and heat the mixture until it forms the right consistency when dropping a drip into the cold water.

Dec 13, 2021
caramels won't set u NEW

I cook my caramels to 240 as per the recipe but the caramels have not set up - what can I. I have try
two candy recipe and neither one set up
THanks for your help

Dec 09, 2020
Carmel NEW
by: Jeannine

Yup, need a candy thermometer. Mine wouldn’t completely harden and I followed the directions and was very patient.

Dec 23, 2019
by: Jill

I have made this poppycock recipe for years first time ever the Caramell did not set on the popcorn it is on cookie sheets is there anyway I can put it in an oven and how long would I cook it and what temp and do you think it would set

Nov 05, 2019
Caramel with chcolate added, not hardening

Based on the answers regarding caramel not hardening, I realize I didn't let the temp get high enough. My recipe included adding chocolate at the end, so I'm assuming I can't cook it more at this point. Any chance I can freeze it to harden then dip in melted chocolate to be able to eat it as candy?

Sep 19, 2019
Make Caramel Firmer or Stiffer NEW
by: Angie from chocolate-candy-mall.com

Usually, the solution is to cook the caramel longer (to a slightly higher temperature). Just be careful not to burn it. :)

Sep 14, 2019
caramel tart
by: Angelina

Hiya I would like to try and make caramel tart like the one I use to have at school. I have tried the ones available but find the texture is too soft, how would I go about making my caramel a bit stiffer?

Dec 09, 2016
Plateau NEW
by: M&C

Melissa was right on with the plateau.. we thought we had something all wrong (the first thermometer was crap and didnt get it to 240) but it took a good 30 min to go from 220 to 240... and about 30 seconds to go from 240 to 242.. caramel looks great. Thanks

Jan 26, 2015
art project NEW

Hi, I'm trying to make a sculpture out of caramel I heated it up and now it's in the mold in the freezer but it wont harden completely... help?

Aug 09, 2011
The Sugar Plateau
by: Melissa

The reason it didn't go any higher, or seem to, is because of something called plateauing. As sugar reaches different points in the melting stage, it seems to sit at a temperature and take in a lot of heat energy without changing. This is because changing from different states takes a lot more energy. In general, it plateaus at 210 or so, then at 235 (thread stage) and then usually at 240 where it gets to the softball stage. You have to be careful because the temperature can leap up fast after taking ages to get to one point. Going from 240 to 260 takes a fraction of the time going from 220 to 240 did. I've ended up with caramelized sugar when I didn't want it.

235 makes syrup. 240 makes candy. It's better to err on the side of a little hotter, technically 235 is the start of the softball stage, but 240 will definitely be it.

Jan 02, 2011
Candy Thermometer a must
by: Marci

Caramels, taffy, toffee, lollipops; all these items are sugar based, and their hardness depends on the temperature they are cooked to. The more water that is boiled out of the mixture, the harder the candy becomes. You need to have a good, accurate candy thermometer that stays in your mixture while you are boiling it. Do not let the tip of the thermometer rest on the bottom of your pan or it will be measuring the pan temp, not the candy. When water reaches 212° it boils and leaves your mixture in the form of steam. It can take a while for this to happen; that's why the temperature can seem to hang for a while (usually in the 220s) before it rises again. I boil my caramels till they reach 245° and they're nice and chewy.

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