Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Great Caramel Saga

Oh my gosh- it's been so long! Sorry about that.  I had a weird week last week that I will probably share with you later.  For now, I want to tell you the Great Caramel Saga. AND wish you a very Merry Christmas or Happy Belated Hanukkah or just a happy day. :)

For three years now, I've been trying to make caramels.  In 2010, I ended up with drops of runny butter/sugar and I tossed them out.  In 2011, I created slightly gooier (is that spelled right?) runny caramels.  But 2012?  I finally did it and made delicious, melt in your mouth, tiny pieces of heaven.

Maybe it's that I finally asked Pammy for her recipe, or that I finally invested (they're only like $5) in a candy thermometer, but whatever it was, these were great.

Go buy a candy thermometer.  Don't try this recipe without one!
These caramels have a back-story: Pammy is an old family friend who for years hosted a Christmas Eve party and sent my family a basket of delicious treats every holiday season (the inspiration for my holiday baskets (although Pammy's are way out of my league)).  I would spend Christmas Eve sneaking as many of the caramels as I could before my parents would notice and there were a few years that I ate the entire bag of caramels that she had sent in the basket ("What are you talking about, mom?  Pammy didn't send us any caramels this year!!")  But then, sadly, Pammy moved to San Diego, and my dreams of re-creating her caramels began.  It's been a long road, but I feel good about this year's batch.

Pammy's Caramels

Makes 5 lbs of caramels! (Feel free to cut it down as needed... or don't)

2 cups butter
2 lbs brown sugar
2 cups light corn syrup
2 14 oz cans of sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp of vanilla

Butter up a 9 x 13 pan.  In a BIG pot, melt the butter and then add the sugar with a dash of salt.

And yes, it's this much sugar!  But you're making it for friends and family, right?  So it's not like you're going to eat all of this by yourself...

Stir in the corn syrup, and then slowly add the condensed milk.  Cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly, until the temperature reaches 245 degrees.  This takes 15 to 20 minutes. Things may start getting a little crazy after 10 minutes- so much hot bubbling (really close to the edge of my pot!), temperature measuring, stirring chaos.  I freaked out a little bit, I'll admit it.

Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.  Pour into your buttered pan and let it set.  I threw mine in the fridge to cool.

And remember, this should make 5 lbs of caramels!  Feel free to cut the recipe in half or smaller for whatever you need.  I just knew I wanted caramels at my party and for gifts.  And I wanted to experiment with chocolate dipped caramels!  More on those soon!

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