My Grandpa is a candy lover. Divinity, fudge--and yes, caramels--are his specialty. I have always loved these smooth, buttery caramels, but this was my first attempt at making them myself. And wow, what success I had! I ended up making five batches this past Christmas season, some to share with neighbors, and some for my kids who watched with longing eyes as we packed them up to give away to friends.
For my first attempt, these were easy--as long as I followed the recipe exactly. I know that candy making can sometimes be tricky, but I must have been lucky because all the batches I made turned out, if I do say so myself, absolutely perfect or to die for, take your pick.
candy thermometer. Then you will need to calibrate it. One word about calibrating your thermometer. I followed the directions on Our Best Bites and was disappointed to find that my brand new thermometer was off by 8 degrees. My water boiled at 204 degrees instead of 212! So, I wrote a big "+8" at the top of my thermometer before I realized the difference was due to elevation. Where I live in the Salt Lake City, Utah area, the altitude is 4320 feet, and if you use this calculator you will see at 4320 feet the boiling point of water is 204 degrees.
|Image from PreparedPantry.com|
You can also test your temperature while cooking by dropping a small amount of the candy into a cup of cold water. For this recipe, you want a firm ball stage, which means when you put a little bit into a cup of cold water it will form a soft ball that will hold it's shape. Since my husband especially loves things soft and chewy, I made a few batches of caramels at a soft ball stage, which means when dropped into a cup of cold water it will form a soft ball, but when you hold it or place it on a plate it will flatten and not hold it's shape. For me, the difference between my soft ball and firm ball were a couple of degrees. My best advice is to make a few batches relatively close together so you can find which temperature you like the best.
Before you begin on the stove top, butter a glass 9x13 dish with butter.
1 c. white corn syrup
1/4 tsp. salt
2 c. (1 pint) whipping cream (not heavy)
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter
1 tsp. vanilla
Mix together sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/3 of the cream (you can eyeball it) in a heavy saucepan. Using a damp paper towel, wipe down the sides of the pan as best you can to remove any sugar on the inside of the pot that would make the caramels grainy.
Set your burner at medium heat (a 5 out of 10). Don't be tempted to turn up the heat to speed up the process. It will get you into trouble. Keep it at the same temperature the entire time.
Cover and bring to a boil at medium heat. Cook for five minutes to allow steam to melt sugar crystals down sides of pan. Remove lid and boil for 5 more minutes until quite thick.
|Brought to a boil|
|After all the cream has been added|
|Slice your butter into thin slices|
|After the butter has been added|
Did I mention these taste heavenly?