The chocolates are dipped and the halls are decked. Now I can relax and enjoy the season.
Chocolates have become our family tradition…I dip, the family eats.
Each year I’m more determined to make my chocolates better. Fresh ingredients. Nothing artificial. I culture butter for my centers. I have to admit my English Toffee rocks due to the full pound of fresh cultured butter.
I’m so excited to share my caramel recipe with you.
You will need:
2 cups light corn syrup
1 (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cup milk
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup butter
4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
Before you begin to make the caramel, make sure you can devote a full hour or so to the preparation. No interruptions. Focus. It’s all about the caramel. Phone calls, texts, etc. can wait.
Prepare the pan before you begin to cook the caramel by lining a 9 x 13-inch pan with nonstick aluminum foil. Butter the foil lightly. I realize it’s nonstick, but I want to make sure the caramel released with ease.
The key to making great candy is a good heavy pan. This will prevent the candy from scorching or burning. For the caramel you will need a 6 quart pan. As the mixture comes to a boil the caramel will rise up the sides of the pan. It’s not a fun mess to clean up when it boils over the top of the pan onto your cook top.
To the large, heavy pan add 2 cups corn syrup.
1 (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk.
1 1/2 cups milk. I use whole milk.
1 cup heavy cream.
4 cups sugar.
Stir until completely blended.
*This is important**. Watch the sides of your pan. If you have stirred the mixture vigorously, there might be sugar crystals present around the sides of the pan. Sugar crystals are an enemy to making candy. The last thing you want is candy that has turned to sugar. Meaning there will be a sugary crunch in every bite. The candy must be smooth and creamy on your tongue.
Wash down any sugar crystals you may see around the edges of the pan with a wet pastry brush. Continue to watch and wash as the caramel cooks.
Add 1 cup butter.
Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat stirring constantly.
Did you catch that? STIRRING CONSTANTLY! That means the whole time the caramel is cooking.
You will notice that the caramel will begin to thicken and the color will darken.
Shout out to my OXO spatula that can take heat up to 600 degrees or so. I LOVE It. I love how the spatula scrapes around the bottom edges of the pan.
The caramel will begin to sound different. The bubbles will make a bit of a popping sound.
Clip on a candy thermometer and continue to stir.
A word (or more) about thermometers:
A good candy thermometer is not absolutely necessary, but very useful. A thermometer needs to be tested before its initial use. To do this, place the thermometer in a pan with enough water to cover the bulb. Bring the water to a boil and let the water boil for several minutes. Read the temperature at eye level; if you look down, the temperature will appear to be lower than it actually is. Note the temperature of which the water boils. It will probably be between 200-212F (95-100C),
If the water boils at any temperature other than 212F (100C),adjust the temperature accordingly.
Such as: If your water begins to boil and the thermometer reaches 200F (93C) subtract 12 degrees from the recipe.
Notice how the caramel has darkened and has thickened.
I know my caramel is perfect when my thermometer reaches 232F.
Even though I have a thermometer I still use the cold water test. Drop a spoonful of the caramel into a small bowl of cold water.
If the caramel holds it’s shape and can be formed into a ball, it’s cooked. A soft ball stage will be soft the the touch and not firm. The ball will droop when picked up.
When the caramel has reached a softball stage (which is the stage I prefer), remove from the heat.
Add two teaspoons of vanilla.
OMGosh I found the best vanilla at TJMaxx. It is Madagascar Bourbon with Tahitian Vanilla Bean.
Gently stir in vanilla. After stirring the vanilla do not agitate or stir the vanilla anymore. This is not a good caramel recipe to use for turtles or pecan logs. Agitation will cause the caramel to turn to sugar, which is not good.
Carefully pour the hot caramel into the prepared pan. DO NOT scrape the sides of the pan. Just let the caramel pour into the prepared pan. Any caramel stuck to the sides of bottom of the pan continue to cook while pouring. If you scrape the caramel out, it will be harder because it has a higher temperature and the caramel will have soft and hard bites. I just scrape the remains onto a buttered plate and we eat at it for a few days.
Once the caramel has cooled cover and let sit for 24 HOURS!
That’s TWENTY FOUR (24) HOURS!!
The caramel will cut so much nicer and will hold it’s shape and dip beautifully.
When ready to cut, after 24 hours, tip the caramel upside down onto a cutting board.
You will notice that this particular batch has pecans in it. My addition for kicks and giggles and because I can’t leave caramel along if it contains nuts. It’s an optional thing. I opted.
Crazy, but I discovered that the caramel will cut much easier and hold its shape if you cut it upside down. Meaning once you turn it out leave the bottom of the caramel up.
Cut caramel into whatever shape size you desire.
I like to place the squares that I’m dipping onto a sheet of buttered nonstick foil.
My chocolate is melted time to temper. For info on chocolate tempering, check out my last year post for Gingerbread truffles.
I’m ready for mass production. Meaning that I have to dip each caramel separately by hand which will take me about 2 hours. Ugh. It’s all part of the experience.
I put a TV in my kitchen and watch all my favorite chick flicks while dipping. Sense and Sensibility (all time fav), Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Moonstuck, While you were sleeping, Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife (watched season 1)….
Ten pounds of melted chocolate. Waiting to be tempered.
How I would kill for a tempering machine.
Tempering the melted chocolate by stirring on a cold marble slab.
Not my prettiest caramel. If only I had another hand….
Sprinkle tops with sea salt for an amazing dipped caramel.
If you aren’t ready for the dipping experience, wrap the caramels in waxed paper or plastic wrap.
Whatever you beliefs may be, I wish you a very happy holiday season. I hope you enjoy family, food and friends as you celebrate your beliefs.
Once again I want to share my beliefs with you with this short Christmas message