Weekend Holiday Cooking: Homemade Caramels

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Recently my husband and I were at an annual Christmas Party at a friends home.  She is an amazing cook and baker and as usual was handing our her delicious (dangerously so!) home made caramels.  Now this is something I would have never tried at home assuming that the gift of caramel making would never be something my fingers could do… but then, our host said something in conversation “They are so easy to make, its just having the patience to do all that stirring!”

Within a few short days, in preparation for our book club Christmas gathering where our theme this year was “home made”, I thought I would try my hand at caramels. (Don’t worry -I also had home made ornaments so I had not put all my hope in the caramels)  To my amazement – they turned out delicious and were one of the coveted items at our gathering.

This weekend, today actually, I made more.  We have our office party this week, and I thought they would be a wonderful treat for our mailman, and others as well.  This time I recorded the process so you an see how it is done and maybe make your own if you like.

Ingredients
  • 1 c. unsalted butter (2 sticks)
  • 1½ c. packed brown sugar
  • ¾ c. light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¼ c. heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ c. chopped walnuts (optional)

– See more at: http://simplykierste.com/2013/10/best-homemade-caramels.html#sthash.qtKJOoDN.dpuf

Ingredients
  • 1 c. unsalted butter (2 sticks)
  • 1½ c. packed brown sugar
  • ¾ c. light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¼ c. heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ c. chopped walnuts (optional)

– See more at: http://simplykierste.com/2013/10/best-homemade-caramels.html#sthash.qtKJOoDN.dpuf

You will need:

  • two sticks of unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla (or a different flavor of extract to jazz it up)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • wax paper

some people add nuts, since mine are for gift giving and some people have allergies, I opt out from using nuts

Put all ingredients except for the vanilla into a large saucepan.  Cook over medium heat stirring fairly constantly until the mixture reaches a temp of 245 degrees on a candy thermometer or passes the hard ball test using a cup of cold water for testing.

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The beginning…. ingredients in saucepan over medium heat
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Heating and stirring to 245 degrees.

Remove from heat and add the extract (as I mentioned above, while vanilla is standard I have tried it with both cinnamon and orange extract as well and it is delicious, giving it more of a special occasion flavor).  Beat in the extract well and then pour the entire saucepan into a 9 x 13 BUTTERED pan immedietly before it starts to harden.

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Remove from heat and stirring in the extract

Place pan somewhere to cool.  This time of year is ideal in Minnesota as I set my pans outside in the garage to cool.  It does not take long, and once mixture is cutable (mmm hmmmm…. my word) cut into 1 inch by two inch squares, roll in fingers to make an oblong shape and roll up in wax paper.

*Note – if you do live in a cold area like me and you happen to cool the caramels too long and they become hard in the pan, place in a warm over for a few minutes until they reach the desired hardness.

Place in a bag or fancy container for gift giving or a cute bowl for your own holiday gatherings.  As you can see here, I tried mine in jars.  This would make a great thank you gift, teacher gift, or just “Merry Christmas” to a friend!

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Thanks to Beth Fish Reads for Weekend Cooking, which inspired this post.

Have a SWEET week!

27 thoughts on “Weekend Holiday Cooking: Homemade Caramels

  1. Oh my….I love caramels. If I have all the ingredients, I am going to make these.

    THANKS for sharing. My mouth is watering…I can just taste them.

    You are AMAZING, Shelia.

    Elizabeth

  2. Oh I would love to make caramels! I even have a candy thermometer, only it’s with all our stuff in shipping so I don’t think I’ll be able to make them for Christmas. 😦 (I’ve tried before to make, what was it, peanut brittle, but without a thermometer you can’t get it right)

    Ah after all those years living in Canada, I know that 1 stick of butter = 125g – very handy to know! But I suck at translating fahrenheit to Celsius. It’s nice that the thermometers have both!

  3. I would have never thought to make caramels but it doesn’t look too difficult. I do the garage cooling trick here in the winter too. One of the few pluses of cold weather. I can’t think of too many.

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