Monday, June 22, 2009

Grandma Great's Caramels

My 92 year old Grandma made these caramels every Christmas for years. She finally made them with me one time when I was a teenager and I've been making them once in a while ever since. They seem to be real hit at Farmer's Market and perhaps I shouldn't give out the recipe. But, I've gotten so many good recipes from the blogs of others that I think it's only fair.
Last week, I enlisted my daughter and her 2nd cousin (also our neighbor in the country) to help with this "grueling" task. I thought it was as good as time as any to pass along the family tradition. The Recipe:
2 C. Sugar
1C. White Corn Syrup
1C. Milk
1/2C. Heavy Whipping Cream
1 Can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/4C. Butter (plus extra to butter pan)
2 tsp. Vanilla
Butter glass pan or metal jelly roll pan (depends on thickness of caramel you desire). I started out using the jelly roll, but prefer the glass 9x13 for the size and thickness of caramels I'm making to sell.
Now is also a good time to get a spoon and a ice cold glass of water ready next to the stove to use for testing the hardness of the caramels later.

Pour all of ingredients in a saucepan or stockpot.

Cook over Medium Heat with Thermometer in place. Stirring occasionally until edges begin to bubble.
We will be cooking until the mixture reaches almost a "Soft Ball" stage approximately 235 degrees.

I always take this small window of opportunity before the constant stirring begins cut my wrappers out of waxed paper.

Once the mixture begins to boil, continuous stirring is required. Take care to scrape the bottom to prevent burning.

Take turns if you have helpers so your arm doesn't fall off.

The mixture begins turning a nice "caramel" color when it is getting close to being done. This is when it is sink or swim time.
The first time I made this recipe I followed the instructions to cook too 245 degrees. This produced a hard mouth sucking caramel. Because I'm going for a nice soft chewy (but not break your jaw chewy) caramel, I cook to a couple of degrees below "Soft Ball" which is marked on any candy thermometer.
You will notice when you are cooking the caramels that it takes a long time to break 220. But once you do, the temperature increases quickly. When the temperature his 220 you will also notice the bubbling liquid seems to be decreasing. QUICKLY, dip your tester spoon in the caramel and get a small spoonful and dip it into your ice cold glass of water. This works to quickly set your caramel to give you an idea of what the consistency of your final product will be. Grab the cooled caramel out of the water and chew it up to see if you like it. If you do, QUICKLY pull the pan off the heat and dump in 2 tsp of vanilla and stir like crazy.
Just as soon as the vanilla is mixed in, pour it into your buttered pan.

You might not get the desired hardness (or softness) the first time around, but after a few batches, you won't even need your thermometer because you'll just be able to sense it! Let your caramels get nice and cool (don't refrigerate).

I use a buttered pizza cutter to cut mine.
Place a caramel in a wrapper and twist the ends. I store mine in the refrigerator after a couple of days.
I hope you enjoy one of our family's greatest treasures!

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