Special equipment: a candy thermometer
Line an 8-inch square baking dish with parchment paper, leaving some paper hanging over the edges of the dish. Spray the parchment and the exposed sides of the dish with cooking spray.
Combine the cream, butter and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in a small pot over medium heat until the butter melts; remove from the heat and set aside.
Combine the sugar, corn syrup and 1/4 cup water in a large saucepan over medium heat and cook, swirling occasionally, until the syrup is medium-amber colored and registers 310 to 320 degrees F on a candy thermometer.
Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the cream mixture. Return to medium heat and cook until the caramel reaches 245 degrees F. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla and 2 teaspoons peppercorns. Pour the caramel into the prepared dish and tap it against the counter a few times to help get rid of air bubbles. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 2 teaspoons peppercorns. Let cool to room temperature.
Cover the baking dish and let set completely, 4 hours or up to overnight. Lift the caramel out of the pan using the parchment paper overhang and transfer on the paper to a cutting board. Cut the caramels into candies with a very sharp knife. (If the caramels stick to your knife, spray your knife with nonstick cooking spray.) Cut squares of wax paper a little bigger than your caramels. Wrap each caramel in a piece of wax paper and twist the ends closed. Caramels will keep at room temperature for about 2 weeks.
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