Appetizer Side Snack Sweets

Milk Stout & Sea-Salt Caramels

November 25, 2013



To speak the obvious, the holidays are upon us! We’ve got Thanksgiving and the start of Hannakuh this week. And Christmas is exactly a month from today. Are you ready? Yeah, me neither. So even though I have not got around to getting gifts and roasting a giant tofurkey, at least I won’t come empty handed because I’ve got these caramels!


These little candies are the perfect accompaniment for all your holiday gatherings. Going to a Thanksgiving where the host has already agreed to make EVERYTHING? Bring these instead of (or along with) that bottle of wine – it’ll be more personal and they are so perfectly petite that you don’t have to feel guilty about munching a few down before the big feast.

Or these would be wonderful to have on the table during a winter gift wrapping party (am I the only one who has those? It’s really the best excuse to make mulled wine and listen to Christmas records with friends). Or to bring to that ugly sweater party. Or really just to have out on the table all December long while you prep for the holidays.


I used Left Hand Brewing Company’s Milk Stout in this recipe to give these little candies a creamy stout punch. However, feel free to use whatever beer or alcohol you prefer. Maybe some brandy or rum (probably not gin or vodka? That just sounds unappetizing – but that’s just me)? Or some hard cider or non-alcoholic apple cider? The options are seriously endless so feel free to get creative with this! I think that, in the end, there is enough delicious sugar and butter in these that you can’t go wrong with the alcohol of your choice.



Milk Stout & Sea Salt Caramels

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
  • 2 Tablespoons milk stout beer
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Thick sea salt for topping
  • Candy thermometer
  • Wax Paper


Line an 8×8 inch pan with parchment paper (make the sheet slightly larger than the pan so the paper lines the sides as well) and grease the paper with oil or butter.

Bring sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir often and let cook for 8-10 minutes or until golden amber. Remove from heat and whisk in the condensed milk and butter (the mixture will bubble and that is a-okay).

Fit your candy thermometer on the saucepan and place pan back on the burner. Turn burner to medium low heat, whisk constantly, and slowly cook until the thermostat reaches 240 degrees. Once at 240, immediately remove from heat and stir in the 1/2 teaspoon salt and beer. Pour into prepared baking sheet and let cool.



Once cool (this could take several hours or I let mine sit overnight), sprinkle with thick sea salt and cut into 1 inch pieces. Cut 4 inch pieces of wax paper and wrap the candies in the wax paper (I rolled mine in the center and then twisted the two ends in opposite directions). Repeat with the rest of the candies.

Enjoy! They will keep up to 2 weeks in an airtight container.





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  • Reply Harriet November 25, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    A gift wrapping party sounds like the best idea I’ve heard in a long time! Any excuse for another get together in the festive season! And these caramels looks perfect!

  • Reply becca November 26, 2013 at 9:23 am


    also, is this a new kind of left hand milk stout? I love it but the packaging looks extra pretty in your photos and I’m slightly confused.

    doesn’t take much :)

  • Reply becca November 26, 2013 at 9:24 am

    also, you could do outfit posts secretly in the food posts and I wouldn’t mind at all! two best things.

    • Reply Shellywest November 27, 2013 at 4:33 pm

      Haha – aww that would be amazing! I always try to have my boyfriend take some ‘action shots’ of me while baking but he is, sadly, the worst photographer I know. He always takes like 10 and they are blurry and tilted weird. Haha – ah well…

  • Reply Ash-foodfashionparty November 26, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    Awesome, love the idea of the party.
    Love these caramels, what a lovely treat.

  • Reply rikki November 27, 2013 at 12:43 am

    love this! what a great addition.

  • Reply Gintare @Gourmantine November 27, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    I’ve just stumbled on your beautiful blog and already loving it.

    These would make such great favors for dinner parties among other uses, though I’ve never ever hear of milk stout before (and I’m from a beer loving country), very curious about the taste.

  • Reply Maria | pink patisserie December 1, 2013 at 9:43 am

    What gorgeous caramels! I would love to give these a go. And your right these would make an amazing gift.

  • Reply Shikha @ Shikha la mode December 3, 2013 at 8:02 pm

    LOVE THESE. I’ve been weirdly obsessed with bourbon lately so I feel like I might try it with that! How long did it take to make all these?

  • Reply Amanda December 13, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    I just made these and they are DIVINE! I wasn’t sure how many this recipe would make and I needed a bunch so I doubled the recipe. I ended up with 250! Way more than I needed but they’re super tasty and it is the season for giving…

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply Shellywest December 15, 2013 at 7:14 pm

      Oh no! I should have warned you how many this recipes makes – my batch made around 100. Did you end up wrapping all 250?! I wrapped my 100 while embarking on a mega long Sunday afternoon Seinfeld marathon.

  • Reply Tee December 17, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    I made some this weekend, but didn’t have a candy thermometer, so I used an infrared one. Not sure if that was the cause, but they never hardened up :( I let it sit overnight, and when I took it out of the pan, it was really gooey and soft still. Was it like that for you too? Maybe mine was undercooked? I ended up throwing it away–since I couldnt really cut through it. Will try again w/ candy thermometer this weekend.

    • Reply Shellywest December 18, 2013 at 12:16 pm

      Hmm – I guess it depends on HOW soft they ended up being. These caramels aren’t hard candy (you’d need to let the temperature rise to 250 if you wanted to make hard candy) and should be a little soft. However, they should be able to hold their shape somewhat when cut and hold together enough to roll in wrappers. I tried to make candy without a candy thermometer once awhile back and it was a HUGE failure since only a few temperatures off could make or break the texture of your candy. Hopefully trying with a candy thermometer this weekend helps! Let me know how they come out and hope my comments helped!

  • Reply Jordan February 5, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    Beautiful website and photos– this recipe sounds wonderful. I have been looking for an out-of-the-box caramels recipe and this sounds perfect! :)

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    These sound sooo amazing!!! How can you go wrong with beer + caramel + sea salt? Love it.

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  • Reply Sue November 16, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    I hate using corn syrup, any substitution suggestions? Honey?

    • Reply Shellywest November 16, 2014 at 7:16 pm

      I totally hear ya Sue and often times feel myself going back and forth on the matter of corn syrup. Unfortunately, (and I had this same problem with caramel corn) there isn’t a substitute that I know of because of the way that the corn syrup hardens when brought to a certain temperature (giving these that chewy texture) that I don’t think can be achieved with honey or agave or maple syrup. I can tell ya that I use karo corn syrup because it doesn’t contain high-fructose corn syrup (if that is at all reassuring):

      I know that wasn’t the answering you were looking for but hope that helped out a little! Thanks for reading. xoxo

  • Reply Sue November 18, 2014 at 10:43 am

    Thank you. I do have a recipe for caramels that uses honey, but I am planning to try yours as well.

    • Reply Shellywest November 18, 2014 at 12:07 pm

      Great! Please let me know if the honey recipe turns out – I’d love to try it myself!!

      • Reply Sue November 23, 2014 at 12:26 am

        Flavor with the stout is decent, but the caramels are nowhere near firm enough. I think 240 isn’t a high enough temp, wasn’t sure because I don’t usually use the sweetened milk. I’m going to dip into tempered chocolate and see if that helps them hold their shape.

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  • Reply Natalie November 25, 2015 at 7:29 am

    So with the beer, would this be considered a treat for adults only? I just don’t want to give them as family gifts and have a bunch of drunk kids in the neighborhood. Also, how do you think Rumchata would work in place of the beer?

    • Reply Shellywest November 28, 2015 at 9:18 pm

      Hey Natalie! Although the beer isn’t necessarily cooked off in the recipe, there is only about .03 Tablespoon of beer per a piece so even if they ate all 64 candy pieces, they’d only be consuming two tablespoons of beer. Hope that helps!