Christmas Candy Traditions–Creamy Caramel Recipe

A couple of years ago I made all the candy for the stockings.  I cooked up about five different kinds of candy, wrapped each piece individually, and placed them in tins.  Since we have a unheated root cellar in our basement with a door on it, I simply put the tins of candy in the root cellar until Christmas Eve, when I filled the stockings.  The homemade candy was a big hit, so this year I decided to cut back on the Christmas cookies that I make and make candy for the stockings again.  This morning I made Creamy Caramel Candy.  Making candy at home is not hard, it just takes time.   I also took some pictures of the process. If you want to skip right to the recipe, scroll down to the bottom, past the pictures.

First line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil. (I actually used a 9-inch square pan.)  Then rub butter all over the foil.

The buttered, foil-lined pan.

Next, put 1 cup sugar, 1 cup corn syrup, and 1 cup butter into a large pan.  (I doubled the recipe, which I don’t recommend, unless you have made candy before.) Scrape the corn syrup out of the cup measure with a flexible spatula to get all of the syrup into the pan.

Butter, sugar, and corn syrup, oh my!

Before turning on the heat, set out an opened can of condensed milk and the vanilla.  Put measuring spoons beside the vanilla.  You will use 1 teaspoon and you don’t want to have to go looking for it when it’s time to put it into the candy.

Stir the sugar mixture over medium heat until the mixture melts.

Beginning to melt.

Almost melted.

Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly.

Now boiling.

Boil slowly for 4 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the milk.  (Note:  Do NOT drop the can of milk on the floor upside down!  Not that I would know anything about that!)  Reduce the heat a little and cook until a candy thermometer reads 238F, soft-ball stage.  If you don’t have a candy thermometer, use the cold water test.  When the syrup has changed to a golden brown color, start testing.  (You need a helper for this step to stir while you test the syrup.)  Dip a spoon into the boiling syrup and take up a small amount of syrup.  Drop the spoonful into a small glass or cup of cold water. If the candy forms a soft ball in the water, it is done.

Note how the syrup is changing color.

When the soft ball forms, take the syrup off the heat and stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla.  Pour the syrup into a prepared pan. (Or, in my case, pans.)  Sorry, my pictures of pouring the syrup into the pans didn’t turn out.  😦  But here is a picture after the syrup was poured up.

Finished syrup, poured into pans to cool.

Let the candy cool completely.  My recipe just said to cool, but I found another caramel recipe that suggested to allow the candy to cool for four hours before cutting, so that’s what I did.  It must have worked because the candy was much firmer than the last time I made this recipe. Turn the pan over on top of a chopping block.  Peel off the foil SLOWLY.  ( That picture didn’t turn out either.) Use a large knife, a serrated knife, if you have one, and using a sawing motion, cut the candy into strips one way, then the other way, to make squares.  Try for about 1-inch squares, but don’t worry.  The candy police will not come to your house to measure your squares.

Caramel candy on the chopping block.

Cut and ready to wrap.

Tear off a strip of plastic wrap and cut it in half.  Place a caramel in the middle of each piece of plastic and wrap into a little bundle, with the excess fold of plastic wrap tucked under the caramel.

Ready to wrap.

Almost done.

Ready to put away for Christmas

Preparation and cooking time is about one hour.  Wrapping the candies takes more time than cooking!  A helper, or several of them, would come in mighty handy to shorten the wrapping time.

If you try these, please let me know how they turned out.

And if you like reading magical fantasy about the struggle between good and evil, try  my book, A Singular Gift  🙂

Creamy Caramels

1 cup white sugar

1 cup corn syrup

1 cup butter

1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil.  Butter the foil and set the pan aside.  Combine the sugar, corn syrup , and butter in a 3-quart saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil slowly for 4 minutes without stirring.  Remove from the heat and stir in the milk.

Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until candy thermometer reads 238F (soft-ball stage*), stirring constantly.  Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.  Pour into prepared pan.  Cool several hours.  Turn out of the pan onto a chopping block, peel off the foil and cut the candy into 1-inch squares, using a sawing motion with a buttered knife.

Wrap each piece individually in waxed paper or plastic wrap.  Store in a cookie tin in a cool place.  Yummy.

*If you don’t have a candy thermometer, test for soft ball stage by dipping a small spoon into the syrup and dropping a small amount of the hot syrup into a small glass of cold water.  If the candy forms a soft ball, it is ready.

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6 Comments

Filed under Baking, Christmas, Family, The Art of Living

6 responses to “Christmas Candy Traditions–Creamy Caramel Recipe

  1. I’ve always loved those homemade caramels and have always wanted to make some, but have never bothered to find out how. Thank you for sharing your recipe! I may give it a try this year.

    • Sue

      Hi, Terri,
      If you set aside an hour to cook the candy and if your kids are old enough to help wrap the caramels, you could get it done in record time. And they do taste soooo good.

  2. Naomi

    That is marvelous! I want to try it…thank you for the pictures! Now what is our next candy-making class project? ☺ !!

  3. I want to make creamy caramels i have a question after the candy is ready to be poured it said a 9″ how long does the pan need to be the pan in the picture looked pretty long to me so it you could help me with that I’ll be making some caramel candy. Thanks.

    • Sue

      Rhonda, I used a 9-inch square pan, actually two of them. The recipe called for an 8-inch square pan, but I only have 9-inch ones, so that’s what I used. They would be a little thicker in an 8-inch pan, but they taste the same, anyway. 🙂

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