I'm in Winchester, VA this week visiting my family. One of my sisters lives here (I have 4 sisters!) with her husband and 2 teenage boys, along with our mom, too! They have a beautiful home that has a lot of history. It was the first and only schoolhouse in this little town for a very long time. My sister tells stories of people popping in to see their old schoolhouse and of the delivery folks who still think it is a building they can just walk in and drop off packages! One day my sister came home to find a note on her door from UPS. That's not so strange, right? The note was left on her BEDROOM door!! Upon moving in and experiencing people just walking in whenever they please, my mom put up a sign alerting everyone that this is a residential home, and she keeps the doors locked (thank goodness)!
It's been a while since I've seen my family, and I'm so happy to be here spending this time with them. I've made dinner a couple times to show my appreciation, and I wanted to give my mom one of her most favorite treats - caramels! My mom calls them kär-məls, but I pronounce them ka-rə-mels. Of course we both feel the other is saying it wrong, even so everyone knows my way is the right way :o), I let mom think she's right because I'm the good kid...
Making caramels is time consuming, but the effort pays off big time! For the first half of making them you can put everything in the pot and walk away for about 30 minutes (I did laundry), but the rest of the time you'll be stirring and checking the temperature. It's a good idea to make sure you have a good hour at least to devote to the caramel making process. Burning the caramel would make you very sad. NOTE: Be sure the dogs have been out before you get involved with the process... learned that the hard way!
*It's a good idea to read the recipe through before making - I give lots of tip in the directions
Ingredients (this makes a lot!)
candy thermometer such as Taylor Classic Line Glass Candy and Deep Fry Thermometer
2 cups white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup evaporated milk
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (good quality such as Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extract Madagascar 4 oz. )
pinch of sea salt
parchment paper such as Beyond Gourmet Unbleached Parchment Paper, 71-Square Foot Roll (not wax paper)
It is important to use a large stock pot. I used a pot for making pasta. You want to make sure to use a heavy pot with a large bottom. Try to avoid using a nonstick type pot.
It is also important to calibrate your candy thermometer. Do this by checking the temp it reads in boiling water. Water boils at 212 degrees F., so your thermometer should read 212 when the water is boiling. If your thermometer is off (and many are), note by how much and adjust the caramel temperature accordingly.
Prepare a 13x9" dish by spraying lightly with cooking spray and lining with parchment paper. The cooking spray will help the parchment stick to the dish. don't spray the inside of the parchment where you are going to pour the caramel. Also, be sure to use parchment - wax paper is not the same and will stick to the caramel (that would be bad)
In your large bottomed, heavy pot combine 2 cups white sugar, 1 cup packed brown sugar, 1 cup corn syrup, 1 cup evaporated milk, 1 pint heavy whipping cream, and 1 cup butter. Put this over mid-low heat and stir well making sure the sugars are combined (my stove top was set to #2). Leave the pot over the heat for 30 minutes (set the timer so you don't forget!)
After the first 30 minutes you'll need to stir pretty constantly for another 45 minutes (and longer sometimes) until the temp reaches 245-250 degrees F. 250 degrees is ideal, but you don't want to go over that if you want soft chewy caramels. I took mine off the heat at 245 degrees F. They seemed a little soft at first, but the next day they were a perfect consistency!
Once your caramel reaches the proper temperature, remove from the heat and stir in 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract and a pinch of sea salt. Taste and add more salt if needed and then pour into parchment lined 13x9" dish. Let cool completely!
Use a pizza cutter to cut strips and then little caramel squares. You can cut parchment paper into squares (or use LorAnn Oils Twisting Wax Paper) and wrap each individual piece or you can line a storage container with parchment and place candies in a single layer (not touching) and then top with parchment and repeat single layer. Be sure to separate layers with parchment paper.
This recipe makes a lot and is great for gift giving!
If you aren't into candy making, but you need some of these caramels (because they are that good!), just let me know and we can work something out :)