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Easter Candies – homemade caramels

April 14, 2011

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Homemade Caramels (yield: depending on size 2-3 dozen)

Note: The homemade caramel recipe is written for a child to follow. I wrote this recipe this way years ago with my brownie troop, my girl scout troop, my ‘young-achievers’ (a church group) and my daughters in mind. It goes without saying that kitchen time with your kids makes for interesting conversation(s) now and later when you can blackmail them with some unwelcome stories every mother loves to tell.  (come on now, be honest, you know you like telling those fun stories as much as the next Mom. I sure do!)

Ingredients:

Step 1:

Line a 10 inch by 16 inch cookie sheet with raised edges with aluminum foil (or parchment paper) and butter bottom and sides (don’t be sparing, butter the foil or parchment paper real good)

Step 2:

Open condensed milk by poking one hole on opposite sides of the can and then pour the condensed milk into a pitcher or a measuring cup with a handle and a pouring spout and set aside to be used later.

Step 3:

Take out a very heavy 2-3 quart saucepan and place on stove-top burner and add the following:

the butter, the sugar, the white corn syrup and the salt –  then have an adult turn the burner to a setting of medium high heat or a setting to allow the mixture to come to a boil but without a chance of scorching the mixture.

Step 4:

Bring the butter, sugar, white corn syrup and salt to a boil.  (you don’t need to stir this mixture at first, just let it come to a boil; then keep sides wiped down with a spatula or brush so sugar crystal will not form and ruin the mixture)

Step 5:

After this mixture comes to a boil and while still on the burner, slowly add the condensed milk while stirring constantly! (adding the condensed milk slowly while stirring at the same time is important, first to incorporate the milk into the cooking mixture and also, so you don’t get splatter on)

Step 6:

Cook this mixture until it reaches 325 degrees on a candy thermometer (this is the soft ball stage – you can also test this in a glass of cool water by dropping the mixture into the cool water, if at the soft ball stage it will not dissolve in the water but will be soft and pliable and hold together when pushed between your thumb and pointer finger and not get stiff.  If it gets stiff then it has been cooked too long.  It is always best to use a candy thermometer)

Step 7:

As soon as the candy thermometer reaches 325 degrees move the sauce pan from the heat to a cold stove-top burner or put the saucepan on another stable but protected surface like a counter-top or table and wait for boiling to completely stop. (protect the counter-top or table with a few potholders or another surface like a wooden board)

Step 8:

After boiling has completely stopped add the 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.  If you are going to add some finely chopped nuts this is when you would add the nuts as well. (the vanilla extract may react to the hot mixture and spatter so be careful not to get spattered on)

Step 9:

Pour hot mixture into the prepared foil (or parchment paper) lined cookie sheet you buttered earlier and let it cool. After it is cool cut into desired sized squares. (you can score the top after it sets a few minutes, if you like. If you do not line the cookie sheet the first piece usually is more challenging to get out but the other pieces will come out more easily. So taking the time to line the sheet does help with this.  Roll each piece you cut in wax paper.  Wrap each piece up like you would a neat little gift or twist the ends. I’ll show you how to make a nice little wrapped package if you like, just ask.)

slide show complement of: Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to About.com, Inc. (2008) used with permission.

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