sorghum benne caramel recipe
Recipe type: dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 7 ounces (14 tablespoons) unsalted European-style butter, plus more for greasing the pan and parchment paper. I used Kerry Gold.*
  • 8 ounces (1 cup plus 2½ tablespoons, packed) light brown sugar
  • 10.2 (fluid) ounces (scant ¾ cup) sorghum syrup (Important note: The ¾ cup is the original recipe's measurement. I used closer to 1 cup.)
  • 10 ounces (1¼ cups) heavy cream
  • 3.3 ounces (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) benne seeds (aka, sesame seeds), frozen
  • Special equipment: candy thermometer
  1. Butter and line an 8x8-inch pan with parchment, ensuring that the paper overhangs on both ends. Lightly butter the parchment.
  2. In a 4- or 5-quart heavy-bottomed enameled cast iron pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat.
  3. Add the brown sugar, sorghum, and cream and whisk.
  4. Bring this mixture to a boil and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.
  5. Continue to stir until the mixture thickens, and reads 235 degrees (soft-ball stage) on an instant-read thermometer, about 15 minutes.
  6. Turn the heat to low and cook until the mixture reaches 248 to 250 degrees (go with 248 degrees to err on the size of caution to prevent overcooking -- you don't want to break your teeth).
  7. Immediately remove the pot from the heat, whisk vigorously for 10 seconds to cool the caramel, and then stir in the frozen benne seeds.
  8. Pour the caramel into the prepared pan, and allow to cool in an undisturbed area for about 3 hours. Once set and cooled to room temperature, cover with foil and allow to sit overnight. The original recipe recommends refrigerating; I do not as a rule.
  9. Loosen the beautiful caramel from parchment using a butter knife or offset spatula, inserting the blade between the pan and caramel.
  10. Invert pan onto cutting board to free the caramel, using a warm, damp cloth on the downturned pan if the caramel does come away readily.
  11. Use a ruler and knife to notch the caramel at ¾-inch intervals along two adjacent sides.
  12. Cut the caramel into ¾-inch pieces, guided by the notches.
  13. Wrap each piece in twisting wax paper or parchment.
  14. The caramels will keep indefinitely if stored in the fridge. I recommend allowing them to come to room temperature in a wrapped container before eating to prevent condensation and to appreciate the full flavor.
* Why this butter instead of the typical "American" butter? European butter has less water content than American, and this can affect certain recipes. I think the caramels taste richer with this butter compared to my past caramels. Go for unsalted Kerrygold, Plugra, or Lurpak. If you can find Anchor from New Zealand, that's great too.
Recipe by story of a kitchen at