Well, I am going to let you in on a secret that is not very well guarded…..I am a caramel fanatic!!! Nope, I guess it is not really a secret at all. I will unabashedly happily proclaim my love for the perfection of this confection! It all began long ago when I was a little girl….my grandfather always being the gregarious charismatic fellow he was, never forgot to bring some sort of treat for each of us kids when he came to visit. I could always rest assured that during the holidays he would bring us Fannie May, and we would cross our fingers hoping it would be – Pixies. Okay, just so you know my mouth is watering right now at the mere thought of pixies/caramel (I need help, I am well aware). From the first time I encountered caramel I was completely besotted. As I grew older, and developed some skills in the kitchen I decided that I should learn to make my very own caramels – to enjoy whenever I felt the desire. So, I set out on a not so successful mission at first to learn how. After many failed/so-so attempts – success was finally achieved!
Candy making is not for the faint of heart and can’t be rushed. Be forewarned that to achieve caramel success you need to baby it, love it, caress it and have absolute patience. This is why, I can only commit to making caramel a couple times a year, because patience is not my strongest virtue. Caramel is really not that difficult to make if you take the proper time and follow the directions. It is very important that you never ever leave the stove while it is cooking, and to allow it to come to the right temperature on your candy thermometer. Note: If I share my caramels with you, know that I think very highly of you, and it’s a silent contract of an enduring lifelong friendship.
2 sticks of salted butter
2 cups white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup of heavy cream
1 cup milk
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
a pinch of salt
Butter a 13×9 baking pan.
Combine all ingredients except the vanilla in a 4-qt saucepan or I like to use one of my large deep cast iron skillets. Make sure to attach your candy thermometer to your cooking vessel.
Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted and the mixture begins to boil.
Continue cooking until your candy thermometer reaches 244°F. To test, drop a small amount of the mixture into a glass of ice water and if it forms a firm ball – you are good to go.
Remove from heat, and add in the vanilla.
Pour into the prepared pan, and cool completely.
Cut into squares and wrap individually in wax paper. Store refrigerated.
Variations: If you want to make turtles, place pecans in clusters on a sheet of waxed paper, then spoon globs of hot caramel on top, refrigerate and once chilled and firm dip in melted chocolate.
Or you can dip chilled/firm caramel squares into melted chocolate making chocolate covered caramels.
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