Low-Fat Vanilla-Pistachio Caramels

After making my cream caramels, I decided it would be fun to experiment.  In particular, I was curious to know if the recipe would work with low-fat milk instead of cream.  Unfortunately, my adherence to the scientific method was somewhat lackluster.  Instead of introducing a single variable, I introduced two:  pistachios and low-fat milk.

These caramels were not as soft as the plain ones, but they were not altogether hard.  I suspect, though, that it was the chopped pistachios and not the absence of cream that made these caramels a little harder.  On the topic of taste, I’m happy to report that these caramels were just nearly every bit as wonderful as the ones with cream.  They lacked a little touch of the “creaminess” – for lack of a better word – that the originals had, but the difference is incredibly slight.

I’m happy to report, then, that these low-fat caramels were every bit as wonderful as the original cream caramels!

low-fat Vanilla-pistachio caramels

PREP TIME: Requires a few hours of cooling
COOK TIME: 20 minutes
YIELD: 16 to 20 Caramels

Vegetable oil
1 cup vanilla-sugar (recipe here)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 cup low-fat milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1/4 or 1/3 cup finely chopped pistachios


1.  Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper.  Lightly brush the paper with the vegetable oil.

2.  In a small pot, bring the milk, butter, and one teaspoon of the sea salt to a simmer, over medium heat.  Do not let it boil.  Once it has reached a simmer, turn off the heat, and set it aside.

3.  In a deep saucepan, combine the water, corn syrup, and sugar.  Over medium-high heat, stir only until the sugar has dissolved.  Then allow the mixture to boil, without stirring, until the mixture is a warm, golden brown.  Watch very carefully, as the caramel can burn quickly toward the end.  (It can be helpful to use a wooden spoon and drip some of the caramel onto a white plate to gauge the exact color).

4.  When the sugar mixture is done, remove it from the heat and slowly add the butter-milk mixture to the sugar mixture.  Be careful because it will bubble up violently.  Stir in the vanilla.

5.  Return the mixture to the heat and cook over medium-low heat until a candy thermometer reads 248 degrees (firm ball), about 10 minutes.  Finally, stir in the chopped pistachios.  Pour the caramel into the prepared pan.  (Don’t scrape the pot).  Refrigerate for a few hours, until firm.

6.  Remove the caramel from the refrigerator and allow it to come close to room temperature.  Pry the caramel from the pan.  On a cutting board, cut the square in half.  Using parchment paper, roll each piece of caramel into a tight 8- to 10-inch log.  Sprinkle the logs with sea salt.  Cut each log into 3/4-inch or 1-inch pieces.  Individually wrap each caramel in glassine or parchment paper, twisting the ends.  Store in the refrigerator or in an air-tight container.


12 responses to “Low-Fat Vanilla-Pistachio Caramels

  1. Oh my, even low fat these look so delicious! I’ve never made caramels but I really want to try 😀 And I love your addition of pistachios, yum!

  2. Looks great! Definitely gonna try this!

  3. I would love to try this recipe! Thank you!


  4. i have a question – why do u say in step five towards the end not to scrape the pot? these caramels look divine and just the thing to try my new candy thermometer!! thanks so much.

  5. Im wiling to sacrifice a little of the taste for lower fat 🙂 These look wonderful!!!

  6. Divine! I have to give these a try. Love the brown paper. Thank you.

  7. Gajra, I read that the caramel that adheres to the pot may get cooked to a higher temperature than the rest of the caramel. And because it has been cooked to a higher temperature, that remaining caramel can throw off the consistency of the entire batch (though not the taste). But rather than waste perfectly good caramel, I like to cut up some apple pieces and have it!

  8. Wonderful! Id be too wimpish to try out such a big substitution so I thank you gratefully that you did all the hard work for me! Its nice to know they can be made still as yummy but slightly healthier, and pistachio=win 🙂 gorgeous recipe indeed

  9. Do these need to store in the fridge or are they shelf stable? I’m always looking for more gifts to give during Christmas, but do you think they would keep long enough to mail? They probably don’t last that long to experiment with shelf like!

  10. Megan, they will store fine in air-tight container for about a week or two. I also mailed a batch to my girlfriend, and she said they held up well in the mail. I imagine that they will hold up even better, come December, when they aren’t being mailed in 100+ degree weather.

  11. Again…. Soooo impressive!!

  12. What if you sprinkled the pistachios on the caramel after you cooked them but before they hardened? Wonder if that would make the caramels soft and chewy.

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