People who love black licorice will flip for these assertively flavored candies. They’ll be not-quite-black without the food coloring but still very cool looking.
- Nonstick vegetable oil spray
- ⅓ cup sweetened condensed milk
- ¼ cup blackstrap (robust) molasses
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¾ teaspoon anise (licorice) extract
- 10 drops black food coloring (optional)
Lightly coat an 8½x4½" loaf pan with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper, leaving a 2" overhang on long sides. Lightly coat parchment with nonstick spray. Cook sugar, sweetened condensed milk, molasses, butter, salt, and 3 Tbsp. water in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring with a heatproof rubber spatula, until sugar is dissolved, butter is melted, and mixture is smooth. Fit saucepan with thermometer and bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly and scraping bottom with spatula to keep mixture from burning, until thermometer registers 246°. Remove pan from heat and stir in anise extract and food coloring, if using, then immediately pour into prepared pan and sprinkle with sea salt. Loosely cover pan with plastic wrap and let sit until caramel is cool and set, at least 2 hours.
Lift caramel out of pan using parchment overhang. Peel away parchment and cut caramel into a 6x4 grid to make 24 pieces total. Wrap individually in waxed paper or parchment paper.
Do Ahead: Caramels can be made 2 days ahead. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.