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Monday, November 24, 2014

Creamy Caramels

The holiday's are upon us!  Even though it is a week before Thanksgiving, we are making fudge and caramels and other treats to send in a Christmas package to our missionary son who is in Canada.  We need to ship early to be sure it arrives to him in time.

Dave's Grandpa made caramels pretty much every year.  I'd bet that he learned to make them from Grandma, but he was the one who taught me how to make them.  He had acquired a tall , 6 quart pot, a marble slab and made 4 iron bars to form sides on the marble to pour the caramel into.  We were lucky enough to inherit those tools when Grandma and Grandpa weren't able to use them anymore.  Most years we make caramels and though it is at least an hour long process of stirring and watching, the outcome is so creamy and delicious it is worth the time!

Grandma often dipped these caramels in chocolate.  She also used the warm caramel to dip a candy nougat to make pecan rolls.  I never saw these, but on her recipe it says that you can pour this into a couple of cookie sheets in a very thin layer, then when cool, cut in squares and wrap a piece of caramel around a walnut and then dip in chocolate.  Lots of possibilities!

If you don't have access to a marble slab, you'll be fine to just pour these into a greased 9x13 pan or 2 8x8 pans.

Tools you will need:

6-8 quart pot  (this foams up a lot at first and it is a MESS to clean up on your stove if it goes over!  Trust me!)
long handled wooden spoon (the steam coming off is hot)
good candy thermometer - tested and adjust temperature 
marble block with sides added OR  greased pans 9x13 or equivalent

Check your candy thermometer by following the directions HERE.

The recipe:

Old Fashioned Caramels

2 C. butter
2 C. white corn syrup
4 C. granulated sugar
2 11 oz. cans evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 C. chopped walnuts, optional

Mix butter, corn syrup, and sugar in large, heavy saucepan.  Cook to soft ball stage over medium heat.  Stir as it boils (be careful of the steam coming off!) being sure to stir up on the sides of the pan as well.   When mixture reaches soft ball stage, add evaporated milk - be careful as it sputters and spits when you first start to add.  Cook over medium heat stirring constantly.  When it reaches firm ball stage, remove from heat.  Add vanilla and nuts if desired.  Pour into greased pans.  Cool until set.  Remove from pan and cut into desired sized pieces.

Joy's notes:  It takes about 40 minutes from the time you add the evaporated milk until it reaches firm ball stage.  As you get close to firm ball stage, it can start to scorch, so I turn the heat to medium low or even low and continue stirring.  I use a candy thermometer AND test in ice water.  If the color looks right, I pull it off the heat.   I like to wrap my caramels in strips rather than individual pieces and then cut it as needed.

This is Grandpa's Marble Slab and border bars.  It's not fancy at all but it sure turns out nice caramels!

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