Ever wonder how to make caramels? According to my Sister, it's EASY!
And, now that I've made her recipe, I agree that they are easy to make. This is another recipe my Nancy excels at. She is known for the beautiful and perfectly detailed chocolates, chocolate covered cherries, peanut butter cups, chocolate covered caramels and, of course, the soft chewy buttery caramels.
She knew how to set up charcuterie boards decades before they became popular.. On Christmas Day everyone in the family anticipated her arrival - and the arrival of her specially made home chocolates and caramels. She would purchase the best of the chocolate with which to make her candies. She always presented a beautifully thought out array chocolate covered cherries oozing with that special cherry syrup inside, nut covered candies, caramels, mints, peanut butter treats, pretzel candies and more. It was heaven, everyone picking their favorites. And, she knew just which candies were were who's favs.
Prepare your pans:
- Have a saucepan ready for stove top caramel cooking.
- Lightly brush the bottom and sides of a 9"x9" cake baking pan with butter. Then line with parchment paper, leaving a 2" overlap so you can lift out the entire caramel block and place it on a wooden board for cutting.
1 cup butter 2 1/4 cups light brown sugar 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 cup light corn syrup 15 oz can sweetened condensed milk 1 teaspoon vanilla
Get cooking: - Melt butter in heavy 3 qt saucepan.
- Add brown sugar and salt.
- Stir in corn syrup mixing well.
- Gradually add milk stirring constantly.
- Cook and stir over medium heat till candy reaches firm ball stage or 245 degrees, (about 12-15 minutes). - Remove from heat.
- Add vanilla and stir well.
- Pour into well buttered 9 x 9 pan.
- Cool, cut and wrap in waxed paper wrappers. You can cut your own waxed paper or you can now order individual wrappers online.
Alternate Microwave Method: - Melt butter in large bow Stir in all the rest except vanilla.
- Microwave on high (100% power) for 19 minutes every 3 minutes.
- Add vanilla, pour into buttered 9 x 9 pan.
- Cool well.
- NOTE: This microwave recipe omits the salt.
The old fashioned way to test your caramel: - This is actually an old recipe. My sister started making it many years ago. People now use candy thermometers.
- I remember when Mom made homemade caramel for coating apples and such, she would put a dollop in a cold cup of water. If you could, with your finger, roll it into a soft ball, it was ready for coating apples. She called it the "soft ball stage." If it was more solid and crisp or would even string, she would call it a "hard stage." That meant that you could string it into crisp solid threads. She even created a bird nest at one time for the top of a cake, continuing to twirl it round and round from a fork, making thin threads that would pile up into a nest form.
- We never talked much about how to store the caramels since they disappeared so fast. Individually wrapping them in waxed paper make them easy to stack in a tin or plastic bag for storing or transporting them for sharing and gift giving.
- I'm sure they will stay fresh for about a month when kept wrapped in waxed paper inside a sealed plastic bag.
- I know some people even refrigerate them to make them last longer than to have them sit in a plastic bag out on the counter.
Try other options:
- Substitute another flavor such as Almond extract for or in addition to the Vanilla.
- Stir in 1/2 C - 3/4 C chopped pecans when you add the add the extract at the end.
- Top each caramel with a half pecan.
- Lightly mark the cutting lines. Place 2-3 chocolate chips upside down on top of each piece and press down. Let them cool completely or refrigerate. Then cut the caramels into rectangles or squares.
- While the caramel mixture is still warm in the pan, sprinkle with colorful holiday jimmies. Press down a little and cool completely before cutting into individual pieces.
- Lightly mark the cutting lines for rectangular shaped caramels about the size of an Andes Mint bar. Layer one Andes Mint on top of each caramel piece. Let cool completely before cutting into individual rectangles.
These are fun caramels to make, decorate and share with family and friends. Adding other extracts and nuts can add variety and feed everyone's favorite flavors for creating your own family traditions around the holidays.
Bake your own Memories!