Sunday, December 21, 2008

Homemade Caramels

This is what my boss gives us every year. I wait in anticipation for it, they are so incredibly creamy and good. The process takes her about an hour, she says, and she does a double batch. Some candies it is not a good idea to do that. I am glad she told me this, they make incredible gifts!!


3 c. whipping cream
½ of a 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
2 c. sugar
2 c. light corn syrup
¼ tsp. salt
1 c coarsely broken walnuts
2 tsp. vanilla

• Line an 8x8x2 baking pan with foil, extending over edges of pan, butter foil.
• Combine whipping cream and sweetened condensed milk in top of double boiler. Heat over gently boiling water (upper pan should not touch water) till warm, reduce heat to lowest setting to keep cream warm.
• Combine sugar, corn syrup, and salt in heavy 3 quart saucepan, mix well. Cook over medium-high heat to boiling, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon to dissolve sugar. Cook 1 minute more. Reduce heat to medium.
• Carefully clip candy thermometer to side of pan. Very slowly add warm cream mixture, about ¼ cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. It will take 10-15 minutes for the total addition. (For creamier caramels, stir about 3 minutes after adding each ¼ cup of the cream: Winnifred allows about 45 minutes to add all the cream.)
• Continue to cook mixure, stirring frequently, till the candy thermometer registers 242 degrees.
• Remove candy mixture from the heat, remove thermometer from saucepan. Immediately stir in walnuts and vanilla. Quickly pour, without scraping pan, into prepared pan. Allow to stand several hours until set. (Caramel varies somewhat in firmness. If it seems a little soft, refrigerate for a few minutes before cutting. If it is firmer than you like, keep it at room temperature before cutting.)
• Use the foil to lift the candy out of the pan onto a cutting board. Peel away the foil, discard. With buttered sharp knife, immediately cut candy into four squares. Cut each square into 16 pieces, making 64 total. (If not cut shortly after being removed from pan, candy may soften a little and the caramels may lose the clean rigidity that gives them their nice shape.) Wrap each caramel individually in waxed paper. Store in covered plastic container in cool place. Makes 64 pieces. (Makes 3 ½ pounds)
• Chocolate Caramels: Prepare recipe as directed except add 3 squares (3 ounces) unsweetened chocolate, cut up, after adding cream mixture to syrup, stir till melted. Continue to cook candy mixture, stirring frequently, till thermometer registers 242 degrees. Continue as directed.

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