Wednesday, December 18, 2013

12 Days of Christmas Traditions: Homemade Caramels

This is definitely our 'sweetest' tradition... homemade caramels. (See what I did there?)
My dad's side of the family made these every year all my growing up. Vanilla and chocolate, melt-in-your-mouth, best thing ever caramels. I got the secret family recipe one year from my grandfather and promptly made the worst batch in the history of ever.
The secret recipe involved a certain kind of cast iron pan, a certain kind of molasses, and a whole lot of work. I gave up for a few years.
But then after not having them in a super long time, I decided to try again. I found a recipe on-line and tweaked it a bit so that they taste exactly like my childhood memories. Since this recipe isn't a secret, I'll share it with you!

1 cup butter (no substitutes)
2 1/4 Cups packed light brown sugar
dash salt
1 cup light colored corn syrup
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup coarsely chopped nuts (optional -- I don't use them)
For Chocolate Caramels: 2 squares semi-sweet baking chocolate (I don't usually make the chocolate ones)

Butter a 9x9x2 pan (don't overbutter. I usually just spray with cooking spray)
Melt butter over medium heat (add chocolate if desired)
Stir in brown sugar and salt.
Stir in corn syrup.
Slowly pour in milk, stirring constantly until combined.
DO NOT let it boil until all ingredients are combined.
Using a candy thermometer, cook to 248 degrees (soft ball stage; takes about 25 minutes; It will get very bubbly like this:)
Remove saucepan from heat and stir in vanilla and nuts.
Immediately pour into pan.
Let candy cool completely before cutting into 1" squares.
Makes about 2 lbs. or 64 pieces. Wrap pieces in non-stick candy foil squares. Enjoy!

Check out all our family Christmas traditions:
Christmas Cards
Advent Calendar
Christmas Books and DVDs
Christmas Music
A Special Nativity Scene
Ornament Tree
4 Stocking Gifts
3 Under the Tree Gifts
Christmas Eve Church Service
Christmas Morning - Luke 2 

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