Why did my caramels melt?

I used the Exploratorium recipe. Followed the instructions to the letter, poured the caramel mix into two pans (I doubled the recipe) and let it cool. I had trouble removing them from one pan despite lining it with waxed paper, so the first bunch wound up being amorphous blobs that I had to gouge from the paper. At least the blobs were discrete vs. one big sheet of caramel.

I had better luck with the second pan, and got them cut and removed in something like squares.

I stored all in a plastic container separated by layers of waxed paper, per the instructions.

The next morning, every single layer had essentially puddled into a large greasy blob. Tasty, but UTTERLY unsuitable for gifting. Per a friend’s suggestion, I put some chopped up in a batch of brownies but I think the rest will get thrown out.

What’d I do wrong? The candy thermometer is accurate (tested in boiling water, and also I successfully made fudge with the same thermometer). The instructions have the same temperature (248) as other recipes I’ve found. It was a cool and dry day (which I know is essential for fudgemaking and shouldn’t be a problem for caramels).

My recipe calls for “a hair above 255 degrees.” Other than that it looks very similar. The only other thing is the recipe I use stresses that you heat very slowly - a batch takes about 1.5 hours to make. Though I think that’s probably to avoid burning them (like Alton says, “Watch . . . watch . . . Don’t look at the UFO!”).

Anyway, going slightly past 255 has worked very well - they come out of the pan in a stiff sheet, and I cut them on a cutting board with a pizza cutter. They’re still pliable, and they tend to warp a bit as I cut them so they don’t look perfect, but they generally hold their shape. Were yours so soft you couldn’t take them out of the pan in one sheet?

In my divinity candy thread, I noted that both butter toffee and divinity might do better if cooked to slightly higher temps than most (modern) recipes call for. So I’m with Unauthorized Cinnamon, though it’s completely theoretical on my part.

Oven temperatures for baking are always too low, too.

I will have to try this again with cooking to a higher temp - that was what I was thinking might be needed.

On related news I finally managed to botch a batch of fudge - not sure if I misread the thermometer (possible, given the next batch I made where I nearly misread it) or poured it into the pan too soon - I had been beating it until it had COMPLETELY lost its gloss and then had trouble spreading it, so this time I stopped when it had partially lost its gloss… The results being hard to cut with a damp interior and sandy texture. I knew something was wrong when I cut the first strip and could hear the knife sounding different. Still tasted good but we won’t be giving THAT batch away!

The next batch (last night) seemed much more normal (will be cutting them up shortly then I’ll know).

You needed to heat it slightly higher, that’s for sure. The higher the temperature reached the harder the candy. It’s a direct correlation.

You can maybe save the caramel by putting it in a glass bowl and microwaving it to remove more water. I’ve done it in the past, and normally can reheat it properly without crystallization it.

I prefer the microwave for melting chocolate or working with candy. I never burn it. A few seconds in the microwave will fix the stuff that is getting too cold to work with any longer.

I just made two batches of microwaved hard candy. It was so easy.

Use a 4 cup glass container. I used a Pyrex glass measuring cup with a pouring spout.
Put in 1 cup granulated sugar
Put in 1/2 cup corn syrup
Cover the container with plastic wrap.
Microwave for 3 minutes 10 seconds.
Remove the plastic wrap
Cover the container with plastic wrap.
Microwave for 3 minutes 10 seconds.
Remove the plastic wrap
Using a clean utensil stir in food coloring
Stir in 1/2 teaspoon candy flavoring or essential oil
Pour on a lightly oiled cookie pan to cool. I use butter.
Score the hard candy while still pliable to break later.
Sugar if you wish.

I used chocolate chips to hand dip some cashews and caramel before making the hard candy. Melt chocolate only to the melting point or you can throw it out.