Saturday, September 21, 2013

. . . Easy Homemade Caramels . . .

When I had one of my bridal showers someone gave me a candy thermometer.   That was now 12 years ago and I finally busted that bad boy out to make these caramels.  Can you guess that this was my first attempt at making any type of candy since that handy dandy thermometer has been in my drawer for 12 whole years?  

I have to admit that I have always been afraid to make homemade candy.  When we were kids my mom would make homeade hardtack and we just loved it but I have never attempted anything like that on my own.  
 
 When I came across this recipe over on my new favorite blog, Butter, with a side of Bread I knew I had to give it a go.  It just sounded too easy to be true so my little behind ran right to the store to grab the ingredients I needed which was just the whipping cream but still it meant a trip to the store.  I came home and got to work.  After about fifteen minutes I knew my thermometer must be broken, afterall it is 12 years old so I'm sure they must break when you don't use them right?  Well out came the ipad so I could google how long it would take to get caramel to the firm ball stage.  Yep, it was going to take awhile.  I have now made this recipe twice and have figured out that either my stovetop isn't very hot or all those other people are lying when they tell you it only takes 15 minutes to get to 248 degrees.  For me it took at least thirty minutes or more to get it to that temp both times.  After twice I'd say I'm an expert candy maker wouldn't you?  No you say, well you are right I have a lot to learn but I do think this recipe is a great beginner recipe if you want to start venturing into the world of candy making.  

I gave these homemade caramels out for teacher gifts for the first day of Fall and Marcus came home saying that one teacher said she had died and gone to Heaven and another said she was coming unglued they were so good.  Rave reviews if I do say so myself.  I shouldn't tell you that my husband said they were just alright but he isn't a candy lover so you should just ignore him like I did.  Listen to the candy making expert that I am when I tell you these were insanely good!
 Homemade Caramels
2 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup evaporated milk
1 pint (2 cups) heavy whipping cream
1 cup butter
1 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

In a medium size pot, combine everything except the vanilla. Monitor the heat of the mixture with a candy thermometer while stirring occasionally. When the thermometer reaches 245 to 250 degrees  remove pot from heat.
Stir in vanilla. Transfer mixture to a foil lined greased 12x15 pan and let the mixture cool completely. You can put it in the fridge to speed the process. When cooled cut the caramel into small squares and wrap them in wax paper for storage.You can also roll the caramels into a "log shape" because they are very pliable then wrap them in wax paper.  I have set mine out in a bowl but if you want to save them for awhile just keep them in the fridge.

 Gather up your ingredients and get ready to become a Master Candy Maker.

 When you put your candy thermometer in the pot make sure it's close to the bottom of your pan but not touching it.  It will take a little while so just be patient and don't stir the mixture constantly but instead just stir now and then while you wait for the temp to rise.

 About this stage I was getting really impatient but my thermometer was still saying it was at 225 degrees.  I realized after the first batch that you can also tell by the color of your mixture when they are done.  This color above is more like a caramel sauce so you want to wait until it gets almost a chocolatey brown color.  I will admit that both batches made me very angry because right about the time the temp hit 245 the caramel burnt on the bottom of the pan so when I poured it into the greased cookie sheet the little burnt flecks ended up in my caramel.  Oddly enough there was no burnt taste to the dark bits but it just didn't look pretty.  That was actually why I made them again because I wanted them perfect but it happened the same way.  I think maybe using a nonstick pot might help but I'm not sure.  I kept my heat at medium the entire time so it would not burn but both times it did.

Once the caramel mixture has reached the desired heat add your Vanilla and mix well.  Then pour your caramel mixture into the prepared pan and let them cool completely.  I put mine in the fridge to get them really cool and solid because I read online that they are easier to work with when they are cold.  I would say that was true because they were less sticky when really cold.

 I don't know what I would have done without this flat cutting tool (I call it a pasta cutter but don't know what it really is called) and my marble pasty board.  Ok, well yes I do know what I would have done...I would have used a knife and a cutting board. The tool and the marble did make this project a cinch but it would have been just as easy with a knife so don't fret if you don't have one of the cutters just use a knife and a cutting board.  You can see a few of the dark flecks that ended up in my caramels in the above photo but I promise this doesn't change the taste at all.
 Cut your wax paper into rectangles and wrap the caramels up and twist the ends.  Be prepared that this step takes awhile. 

 I was one happy camper when I wrapped my last caramel let me tell you!  They look great though and taste even better.

 As I mentioned I gave these out for teacher and staff gifts so I printed a cute tag and used some of the dollar bin containers from Target.

 I put each container down in a clear cellophane bag and tied the tag with a few pieces of Baker's Twine and the gifts were ready to go to school.

 If you are like me you don't want to keep too many of these babies at home because they are dangerous let me tell ya!  Yummy!!

I hope you enjoy them and take a chance and make them.  If you don't have a candy thermometer just google how to make candy without a thermometer and you will get lots of info about how to drop the mixture into cold water.  It works because I used both methods just to see and was very pleased with it.  Good luck!

3 comments:

  1. Let me be the first to say they are fantastic. Better than store bought any day. I was one of the lucky ones that got the cute little packaging. What a great introduction to fall. Thank you for the great treat.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Let me be the first to say they are fantastic. Better than store bought any day. I was one of the lucky ones that got the cute little packaging. What a great introduction to fall. Thank you for the great treat.

    ReplyDelete
  3. what a great sharing!!! must be a wonderful Halloween!!


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