Creamy Mocha Coffee Caramels

I know I’m late to the party on this one, but Fany Gerson’s cookbook My Sweet Mexico is a total gem.  I’m usually stumped as to how to end Mexican meals (I mean, a girl can only eat so much flan or Mexican chocolate ice cream).  Well, that certainly won’t be a problem anymore- this cookbook is chock full of interesting and diverse recipes for sweet breads, candies, cookies, and frozen treats.  Seriously, this book has it all.  I currently have about a dozen recipes bookmarked with little page flags.

These creamy mocha coffee caramels actually morphed from Gerson’s milk fudge recipe.  I swapped out some evaporated milk for coffee and ended up with these soft, creamy and chewy coffee caramels.  I used café de olla, because I had some on hand, but feel free to use any kind of coffee.

11/7/11 Update: I went back to make these again just to make sure they worked with regular coffee (they did) and to add some extra photos to illustrate the consistency you’re looking for when to pull them off of the heat.  The photos above will result in caramels that actually don’t need any refrigeration.. they set up perfectly at Hawaii room temperature.  If you stop just short of this, the caramels will require refrigeration, but I actually liked the texture of my earlier batch of refrigerated caramels better.  In any case, you have some flexibility here.

When you’re stirring you should be able to coax the mixture into a mound; when you stop stirring it’ll creep back towards the edges.  The photo on the right is after cocoa powder was added- at this point the mixture could be coaxed into a little ball.  And while you don’t need a candy thermometer, you do need patience… a half batch simmered away for about an hour to get to the finished stage.

Creamy Mocha Coffee Caramels, Adapted from My Sweet Mexico: Recipes for Authentic Pastries, Breads, Candies, Beverages, and Frozen Treats

* 2 (14-ounce) cans of sweetened condensed milk
* 1 cup evaporated milk
* 3/4 cup café de olla, or other kind of coffee
* 6 Tablespoons butter
* 2 teaspoons vanilla
* pinch salt
* 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder
* parchment paper or aluminum foil and waxed paper

Lightly grease a loaf pan (approximately 9-inch by 5-inch) and line with parchment paper or aluminum foil, leaving a little overhang on each side.

Combine the condensed milk, evaporated milk, café de olla or coffee, butter, vanilla, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Cook, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is very thick and pulls away from the sides of the pan.

Pour half of the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and spread evenly.  Add the cocoa powder to the remaining mixture and stir to combine.  Pour the mocha caramel over the coffee caramel and allow to come to room temperature.  Place in the refrigerator until chilled.  Remove and cut into bite-sized pieces.  Wrap pieces in small squares of waxed paper.

Store in the refrigerator.

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29 Responses to “Creamy Mocha Coffee Caramels”

  1. #
    chinmayie @ love food eat — July 23, 2011 at 8:06 am

    YUM YUM! That's also quite easy to make! looks great :)


  2. #
    The Procrastobaker — July 24, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    wowwww, i am DEFINITELY trying these out at some point! They look fabulous! Although im almost certain mine wouldnt look have as pretty as yours :) im a long time follower and lover of your blog but not sure if ive commented before, it really is lovely!


  3. #
    CATE — July 24, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    Thanks for the nice comments- and also for taking the time to comment! I love being able to see who checks in here and I love checking out all of your blogs as well :)


  4. #
    Martyna @ WholesomeCook — July 24, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    These look great and contain my favourite flavour: coffee! I tried, twice might I add, to make chewy caramels but failed both times. :-/ I might try your recipe next time I have a major sugar craving! Thanks for sharing


  5. #
    CATE — July 24, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    I hear you Martyna… all those sugar based candies (caramels, brittle, etc.) can be super tricky. I wasted so many ingredients before I finally broke down and bought a candy thermometer- I don't know why I waited since they're so inexpensive!

    These caramels don't require a candy thermometer and aren't very difficult at all- it just takes awhile for the mixture to thicken and simmer down :)


  6. #
    Marisa — July 25, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    Man alive that looks good!


  7. #
    Julia — July 25, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Stunning pictures, amazing recipe!!!! No really, I am SOOOO craving these now!


  8. #
    Jill — July 25, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Wow, these look delicious! I've made caramel before but have never let it cook long enough that it became chewy, I always end up with kind of mushy caramel. Good for turtles, not good for single servings. I'll have to try this sometime and go with the 'pull away from the sides of the pan' theory. Btw..I found you via Tastespotting. :)


  9. #
    amanda — July 25, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    Mmm, mmm! These look wonderful!


  10. #
    CATE — July 25, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    Thanks ladies :)


  11. #
    Jennifer (Delicieux) — July 26, 2011 at 1:23 am

    Wow these look fantastic. I love caramel.


  12. #
    Anonymous — July 26, 2011 at 5:20 am

    Is there anything I can substitute the coffee with? I was considering milk. Do you think it'd work?


  13. #
    CATE — July 26, 2011 at 5:47 am

    To Anon- I actually adapted the recipe from Gerson's milk fudge recipe, which only used evaporated milk and no coffee. But for whatever reason, adding coffee made this much more like caramel and not like fudge. If you want to give her original recipe a shot, it's been reprinted in several places, including here-


  14. #
    Bob Pony — July 27, 2011 at 12:16 am

    Hmmm…I've tried twice now, and they're coming out far too soft and runny to set up. I thought it was pulling away from the sides when I stirred it. Will try reheating this batch and really, really cook it down. It must just take a long time to cook? Thx -


  15. #
    CATE — July 27, 2011 at 3:24 am

    Hey Bob,

    Yes, it does take a long time. In Gerson's original recipe she said 30 minutes. I found it took longer than that, which is why I didn't state a time… especially since if people have different strength simmers going it could really affect the time as well.

    I'd definitely err on the side of cooking it too long and letting it get a bit stiffer. If you cook it even longer it's possible it won't need to be refrigerated like mine was. Hope it finally works for you!


  16. #
    Mark — July 28, 2011 at 1:30 am

    Those look real good. I love mocha candy! Thanks for the post.


  17. #
    tonguekisses — October 21, 2011 at 1:32 am

    I tried making this today and stirred for over half an hour & it still didn't get thicker… I think it may have gone wrong with the evaporated milk; I measured with the liquid cup. Any advice?


  18. #
    CATE — October 21, 2011 at 6:21 am

    Hey there… all I can really suggest is more time. Gerson's recipe stated only 30 minutes but I found it took quite a bit longer that. Of course everybody's burners are quite a bit different too… if you watch it carefully you might be able to raise the heat a little bit more to help speed things along.

    Hope it finally works for you!


  19. #
    Jen Mott — November 2, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    I stirred these carmels for over 1 hour and they did not get thick! Big failure! I think something is missing from the recipe??!!!


  20. #
    CATE — November 4, 2011 at 3:24 am

    Hi Jen- I looked over the steps and I don't think anything's missing, but I'm going to buy the ingredients and make it again just to see whether using café de olla vs. regular coffee makes a difference since café de olla already has a bit of sugar in it. I'll try to update the post with any info/help to make sure these work for people.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment :)


  21. #
    Jessica — December 7, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    These look so yummy!!!! Have you tried another batch yet to see if using regular coffee is the issue? I want to make these for my friend's birthday this weekend so I want to make sure I get it right the first time=D Thanks so much for putting this recipe together! Also, this is a totally dumb question I know but I just want to make sure, when you state coffee as an ingredient you mean a prepared cup correct? Not in its granular form, like instant coffee or anything right? Thanks again!


  22. #
    CATE — December 8, 2011 at 3:42 am

    Hi Jessica, yep- I mean a plain old prepared cup of coffee :) And I did make these again to make sure they worked with regular coffee (check out the note in italics above). Just be prepared to let them simmer away for quite a long time… it took just over an hour for me for them to get to the right consistency.

    Use the photos above to reference what the mixture should look like before you pull if off the stove and you should be all set. Good luck!


  23. #
    Jessica — December 8, 2011 at 4:29 am

    Thanks so much for taking time to respond I appreciate it! Wish me luck!


  24. #
    CATE — December 8, 2011 at 7:38 am

    No problem :) I'm sure you'll do great, but good luck anyways!


  25. #
    CookiePie — December 9, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    Hi! I have a question. In the original recipe, it says to pour the mixture into a 9-inch square pan, but you used a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. In the photos they look like they're the same thickness. I'm confused! This worked for you in the loaf pan? It wasn't too thick? Also – do you have to stir continuously for the whole time that the mixture is cooking?

    Thanks much!


  26. #
    CATE — December 12, 2011 at 2:46 am

    Cookie Pie- I found that the loaf pan seemed a better fit… I didn't think there was enough mixture to evenly spread two layers over a 9×9 pan. It might also be a trick of the eye since both my photos and the Seattle Times photos don't have much scale to really judge the thickness.

    If you're worried, you can always prepare both pand- I'm sure after the mixture has cooked down you'll be able to tell which is more appropriate. Of course it's also partially preference. My caramels were almost squarish… if you prefer long skinny caramels, definitely go with the 9×9.

    And I wasn't GLUED to my stove, but I did make sure to give the mixture a stir every minute or two to make sure it didn't stick to the bottom and burn.

    Good luck… and thanks for taking the time to write in!


  27. #
    Anonymous — December 12, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    I'm attempting to make these for my dad for Christmas. They look sooo good! I made a batch yesterday to test things out and see if it works for me (since I've tried this sort of thing without an experiment run and failed utterly – many tears with that situation) and it came out too sticky. It's not setting up. Having read the comments and your responses, I'm sure I didn't cook it long enough. Thank you for sharing the recipe and for all the helpful feedback! I can't wait to make this work.


  28. #
    M — August 26, 2014 at 8:02 am

    What kind of coffee should be used in this? Would espresso be good or too strong? Would filter coffee made in a cafetiere be better?


    • Cate — October 4th, 2014 @ 4:32 pm

      So sorry for the delayed response. I used regular drop coffee, but I’m sure espresso would be fine… just a little more intense on the coffee flavor!


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