Thursday, December 11, 2008
Fourth times a charm, right? I burned the first three batches of this recipe for caramels but finally got it right the fourth time. I've had this recipe for years and have made it before and it always turned out great. I was afraid I was losing my mojo when each batch kept burning this year, but alas! I figured out my candy thermometer has died. Whew!
So hang in there with this recipe-- as my successful batch was made without a candy thermometer. Instead of going by temp, I went by time. But you can go by temp if you have a good candy thermometer-- they've always worked for me in the past.
2 sticks (1 cup) butter
2 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1. Place a double layer of heavy duty aluminum foil inside a 9 inch square baker. Press to mold foil over bottom and up the sides. Grease foil with butter. Remove foil from baker; place on cutting board or other heat-resistant area.
2. In a medium to large saucepan (my first two batches were done in the 3 qt saucepan up in the picture and I don't think that was big enough so I used a larger one on my last batch), melt butter over low heat.
3. Turn heat off and add brown sugar, sweetened condensed milk and corn syrup. Mix thoroughly before turning heat back on. Make sure it is all incorporated nicely. Clip candy thermometer onto pan.
4. Cook over medium heat (I erred on the side of caution and went to a medium low), stirring almost constantly with a wood spoon until thermometer reaches 248°. This can take 25-35 minutes.
* Since my thermometer was broken, I never made it that far and that is why the first three batches burned. I finally just did my last batch by watching the time, and stirring almost constantly and pulled it from the heat at about 33 minutes. You can tell my the smell that it is at that done stage-- the smell will change (one of my first jobs was at Karmelkorn in the mall... I'll never forget that unique smell of doneness!).
*Caution* Mixture will be extremely hot!
5. Remove thermometer from pan and quickly stir in vanilla. It may bubble and sputter when you do this so be careful.
6. Quickly pour mixture into foil tray. Let stand until firm, about 4+ hours. Do not move tray. Do not refrigerate.
7. To cut, remove foil and place caramel on a cutting board. Use a knife to cut caramel into 1/2-inch squares. Wrap in wax paper.
** You can either butter the knife or run it under cold water (and then wipe dry) to cut the caramels with ease.