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dessert recipes/ vegetarian recipes

Spiced Sweet Potato Caramels

Spiced Sweet Potato Caramels Unwrapped

Spiced Sweet Potato Caramels Unwrapped
You might see a lot of sweet potato recipes on my blog over the next month. I want to put a patio in our backyard, so I am determined (determined!) to win the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission’s No More Mallows Blogger Recipe Contest. So, having the eye of the tiger and determination and things like that, I decided to start things off big by making sweet potato caramels.

When I did a Google search for “sweet potato caramels recipe,” all I found were a bunch of pages about Morinaga sweet potato caramels, which I happened to have bought when we were in Japan a few years ago. While they’re delicious, they’re not the buttery, gooey kind of caramels we’re used to in the US. They kind of have the texture of a Starburst with a very mild caramel flavor. I wanted to use sweet potatoes to make crazy decadent caramels. The kind that make you weak in the knees. Having never made caramels before, I figured it would take me a few tries to perfect them, but I surprised myself and got them right the first time by using the cooking instructions and proportions from this caramel recipe and then tweaking them a little.

Spiced Sweet Potato Caramels with Toppings
I debated whether I should add cardamom or chipotle powder to my sweet potato caramels, but I settled on the trio of cinnamon, ginger, and allspice instead because I felt that they would appeal to most palates. This combination of spices makes these caramels almost taste like sweet potato casserole. (Sweet potato casserole, but better!) For a Japanese twist, omit the spices altogether and top with black sesame seeds instead. And although the name of this recipe contest is No More Mallows, if you really wanted to, you could allow the caramel to cool and then wrap it around marshmallows.

These are time-consuming and labor intensive to make, but they are so worth it. And they are definitely the kind of caramels that make you swoon a little when you eat them.


Spiced Sweet Potato Caramels

Spiced Sweet Potato Caramels

These sweet potato caramels are rich, decadent, and yes, they really taste like sweet potatoes.

  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Yield: 36 1x


  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter (plus more for greasing the baking dish)
  • 1 small sweet potato, pierced with fork
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • pepitas, pecans, or sea salt for garnish (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8 x 8 inch baking dish with parchment paper. (If you cut a slit in each corner of the paper, lining the sides is easy—for a visual demonstration, check out Lining Pans with Parchment on Good Life Eats.) Lightly grease the paper with butter.
  2. Place sweet potato on a small baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Bake until tender, about 35–45 minutes (depending on size and shape of potato). Allow to cool slightly.
  3. Once potato has cooled, remove the skin and cut into large chunks. Add potato pieces to food processor; process until smooth and no chunks remain. Measure 2/3 cup of the puree; if there’s any puree remaining, save it for something else or eat it now. It’s delicious!
  4. Transfer puree to a small saucepan. Stir in cinnamon, ginger, and allspice until well-combined. Stir in heavy cream and heat on medium, continuing to stir. Bring to a simmer and set aside.
  5. In a heavy 4-quart saucepan, stir together sugar, corn syrup, maple syrup, and water with a wooden spoon and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Use a heat-proof pastry brush dipped in warm water to brush sugar crystals from side of saucepan. Once mixture has come to a boil, place candy thermometer into sugar mixture and continue to cook until temperature reaches 244°F (don’t stir it!). Remove from heat.
  6. Gradually (and carefully!) add cream mixture to sugar mixture, stirring as your pour. The mixture will bubble up at this point, so please be careful and pour the cream in slowly. Return to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Continue cooking until mixture reaches 240°F (this could take up to 30 minutes). As temperature rises, begin to stir more frequently.
  7. Once caramel mixture reaches 240°F, remove saucepan from heat. Stir in butter and and lemon juice until well-combined. Pour into lined baking dish. (If you’re topping your caramels with nuts, salt, or pepitas, press them into the top of the caramel after it has cooled for about 15 minutes.) Cool to room temperature before cutting into individual pieces. (I cut them into 36, but make them as big or as small as you like!) Wrap in waxed paper and store in an air tight container or refrigerate.


Note that caramels are very temperamental–too much humidity, sugar crystals on the side of the pan, and even slight variations in temperature can make them too hard, too soft, or crystallized.


  • Serving Size: 1 caramel

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  • Reply
    The Mrs @ Success Along the Weigh
    March 12, 2012 at 8:05 am

    My jaw hit the floor with this one. Good luck on the contest, I can’t imagine there being anything more awesome than that in the running!

    • Reply
      The Type A Housewife
      March 12, 2012 at 8:40 pm

      They are so, so good but so, so bad. 🙂 They were my treat for the week and I was only going to have 3, but I had more. *cough* You need to send me some of your self-control. Usually when I make recipes like this, I’m really good at making them & only having one, but these were totally addicting.

  • Reply
    Rachel R.
    March 12, 2012 at 10:32 am

    You are so creative – I loved the presentation in your photo! Good luck with the contest.

    • Reply
      The Type A Housewife
      March 12, 2012 at 8:38 pm

      Thank you! I have two other entries that I’ll be posting this month, so I’m maximizing my changes (and probably boring everyone with all the sweet potatoes–ha!).

  • Reply
    Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell
    March 12, 2012 at 11:57 am

    Oh good heavens, those look AMAZING!

    • Reply
      The Type A Housewife
      March 12, 2012 at 8:37 pm

      Thank you! They were really, really good. Well, are good–the recipe makes a lot and we still have some left!

  • Reply
    March 12, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    Yum, I would love to try a candy that tastes like sweet potato! Good luck in the contest – I think you definitely deserve points on originality!

    • Reply
      The Type A Housewife
      March 12, 2012 at 8:36 pm

      Yeah, either they’ll love them or think they’re totally bizarre, right? 🙂

  • Reply
    March 12, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    These look fancy! I never knew caramels made with sweet potato existed, but I’d totally try one.

    • Reply
      The Type A Housewife
      March 12, 2012 at 8:35 pm

      They are really good! And now that I know I can make caramels, I need to start trying some other flavors…

  • Reply
    Stephanie @ henry happened
    March 12, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    Yay for you in making something so good/healthy. It counts as a serving of veggies, right? 🙂

    • Reply
      The Type A Housewife
      March 12, 2012 at 8:34 pm

      HA! As I bought the ingredients for this, I felt so guilty. But I allow myself one super bad indulgence a week, so caramels were it last week. I figure if I eat healthy the rest of the time, it balances out–at least I hope it does. 🙂

  • Reply
    March 13, 2012 at 3:08 am

    These look tasty – I was just eating my homemade caramel sauce by the spoonful…maybe I should make candies:)

    • Reply
      The Type A Housewife
      March 13, 2012 at 4:18 pm

      I was thinking about revisiting this recipe in the fall and making it a sauce for some kind of Thanksgiving-y dessert! I think the only difference between a sauce and candies is that you cook the candies longer, right?

      • Reply
        March 13, 2012 at 4:53 pm

        Looking at your recipe compared to my sauce one, you definitely cook the candies longer and at lower temperatures, My sauce only cooks for, if I had to estimate, 10 minutes before cream and 3 minutes after adding the cream, but at medium high, and the final temperature is somewhere around 320 degrees.

        • Reply
          The Type A Housewife
          March 13, 2012 at 8:28 pm

          Yup, that sounds about right. So the caramels are a little more involved time-wise, but they’re definitely worth it. 🙂

  • Reply
    All Natural Katie
    March 13, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Yummo! I have never made caramel, but enjoy eating it. I will have to try this recipe.

    Question – how long can you store them at room temperature and in the fridge?

    • Reply
      The Type A Housewife
      March 13, 2012 at 4:15 pm

      I experimented and kept half in the fridge and half in a Tupperware container in the pantry. We’re on Day 4 and the ones in the pantry taste fine, but they’re getting a little bit on the melty side (but it could be because of the weather). The ones in the fridge taste and look the same as the day we made them. So my guess is that if you refrigerate them, they’ll last at least a week.

  • Reply
    March 13, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    This is such a creative recipe! I especially like your addition of a pecan on top of the caramels–now I can enjoy Thanksgiving flavors in one bite!

  • Reply
    March 13, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    Good luck with the contest!!

    If you happen to make any extras, you have my address. 😉 Caramels make me weak in the knees!

    • Reply
      The Type A Housewife
      March 13, 2012 at 4:12 pm

      Have you made them before? It’s kind of involved, but at the same time, it’s easier than I thought it would be. I can’t wait to make them again!

  • Reply
    March 15, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    The recipe makes me nervous (I would totally screw these up!) but these look heavenly!!! I know you’re gonna win too. I was just talking about wanting a patio this year and had to explain to my BF what a pati was. Apparently they’re all “decks” to him. 🙂

    • Reply
      The Type A Housewife
      March 15, 2012 at 6:18 pm

      Have you made caramels before? They are so, so worth the effort. Oh man. If they weren’t so bad for you, I would make them every weekend.

      • Reply
        March 20, 2012 at 3:44 pm

        Nope- I haven’t made them (YET!). I LOVE caramel though… it’s one of my favorite sweet flavors for sure!

  • Reply
    [email protected] n Dishes
    December 9, 2014 at 11:00 am

    I make caramels almost every Christmas to give as gifts and every one loves them, but I feel that it’s time to change it up! Love this and it’s so surprising!

  • Reply
    Emma {Emma's Little Kitchen}
    October 13, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    Ooooh, so intrigued by these babies! Perfect halloween fare 🙂

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