Thursday, December 22, 2011

Homemade Caramels

(The Chewy Werther's Kind)

On of my many memories that I revisit every Christmas is the amazing array of baked goods that my Aunt Ruth would make for Christmas. One of the treats she made was homemade caramels. I have attempted to make them before. I used cream, which is differnt from the recipe i am about to share. I am not sure if it was the cream, too high heat, or my impatience that resulted in a complete disaster, but it was a mess! 

Yesterday morning I decided to revisit the art of caramel making. This time I used sweetened condensed milk, and was VERY patient. I carefully watched my candy thermometer and stirred, stirred, stirred. These caramels were a little work, but TOTALLY worth it. The buttery, caramely goodness is to die for!

If you closed your eyes and did a taste test it would be extremely hard to tell the difference between these and the Werther's Original Chewy Caramels. They are seriously that good....Worth every ounce of work put into them. 

Homemade Caramels 
(Recipe found at Chef in Training)

-1 cup real butter
-2 1/4 cup brown sugar ( I used half light and half dark)
-1 cup light corn syrup
-1 - 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk
-1 tsp vanilla

-Get all your ingredients pre-measured out, and equipment ready to go. Make sure you have a candy thermometer. This is crucial to candy making. 
-Line a standard sized baking sheet or big glass baking dish with parchment paper. Allow paper to rise up the edges rather than just line the bottom.
-Cut butter into small cubes and melt over low heat in a medium sauce pan.
-Add and mix sugar, corn syrup, and condensed milk. Pour sugar in the center of the pan.
-Cook and stir constantly on med-high heat scraping sides occasionally while stirring. Continue stirring until boiling, then clip your candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Do not allow the thermometer to touch the bottom of the pan.
-Reduce heat to medium OR a temperature which allows a steady, moderate to low boil. Continue stirring....You should be getting awesome looking biceps by now:)
-When the thermometer reaches 244 F (about 30 minutes), remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour the caramel into your parchment paper lined pan. Use caution. Mixture is VERY HOT. This will harden and set with time so don't worry that it is runny. It should be.

- Allow to cool over night, or for 6-8 hours on the counter top. Then by lifting the sides of the parchment paper, remove the caramel slab from the pan onto a cutting board.
-Use a pizza cutter to slice caramel into strips and then pieces. Pieces can be left in cubes, or rolled between palms to form skinny caramel sticks.
-Wrap each caramel in appropriate sized pieces of wax paper and twist the ends to close. Store in an airtight container. I stored mine in a gallon Ziploc bag. It was filled up about 2/3 of the way full.
-The wax paper cutting, caramel cutting, and candy wrapping are great jobs for spouses, friends, or older kids. Make it a family project and lighten the load for yourself:)


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