Autumnal Caramels

This past weekend after the WBAL piece, we drove out to the mountains to see family.  I baked some breakfast treats to take with us, but also made some homemade caramels.  While I've never particularly loved caramels, they are among Doug's favorite and thought they had that Autumnal feel to them. They taste like Fall.  I've made them a handful of times, with the first time being a total disaster (I used evaporated milk instead of condensed milk - apparently they are completely different ingredients, hence the name!), but this recipe was different. Caramels, well, candy making on a whole, can be labor intensive and frustrating.  While making caramels, one has to stand by the stove, hovering over the pot of boiling sugar, aggressively stirring for a good 30 minutes or more. This recipe, took me about 20 minutes AND they were the most delicious recipe I'd ever made.  Win, win!

Give them a try. If you like caramels (even if you don't) you won't be disappointed! And neither will your loved ones.

Homemade Caramel (or caramel dip)

Ingredients: 1 cup butter, unsalted 1 cup light corn syrup (11.5 oz) 1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk 2 1/4 cup brown sugar (14.5 oz.) 1 tsp. vanilla

You'll need: candy thermometer heavy, 3-qt. sauce pan 8×8 or 9×9 glass pan wax paper for wrapping caramels

Method:

  1. Clip your thermometer onto the side of your pan.  I used bulldog clips, one on each side, which worked great. DO NOT let your thermometer touch the bottom of the pan, as it will affect the temperature and not be an accurate reading of your candy.
  2. Rub butter on the bottom of the pan and up the sides. Prepare any apples, pretzels, or other items you’ll be dipping. Chop any nuts or prepare any candy you’ll be sprinkling on top.
  3. Cut butter into smaller, even sized cubes for even melting. Melt over low in sauce pan.
  4. Carefully add sugar by pouring it into the center of the pan. If sugar sticks to side of pan, push them down with a damp pastry brush so they do not crystallize the entire batch. Stir slowly until well combined with melted butter.
  5. Add and mix in corn syrup and sweetened condensed milk.
  6. Cook and stir on medium for one minute, then to med.-high until boiling. You want to change temperatures slowly, so be patient.
  7. Reduce heat to about medium, adjusting so that you keep a moderate, steady boil. Stir frequently. If you let your caramel go too long without stirring, you’ll end up with a separated, greasy batch of caramel, not the delicious creamy texture you're looking to achieve.
  8. Watch the thermometer carefully, as temperature does not raise at a steady rate. When your thermometer reaches thread stage (230–233°), take out any caramel that you would like to use as dip. When thermometer reaches late soft ball stage (234–240°), dip in a few apples for caramel apples.
  9. When thermometer reaches 244°, remove caramel from heat (this is low firm ball stage; reaching this stage from boiling takes about 20-30 minutes).
  10. Stir in vanilla. If dipping, start immediately. If making caramels, pour the caramel into the prepared pan. Be careful, the mixture is boiling hot sugar.
  11. Allow to cool for several hours and use a butter knife, kitchen scissors or a pizza cutter to cut into pieces. Wrap in wax paper. I didn't cut them into pieces, but set them on the counter with a knife, allowing everyone to cut the size piece they wanted.

Recipe adapted from giverslog.com