I wanted to make some caramels to give to friends for Christmas and I found this recipe over at Givers Log. Amber Lee has shared a wonderful caramel recipe, try it if you don’t already have a caramel recipe that works.
Homemade Caramel (or caramel dip) Adapted from the Givers Log.
Yield: about 60 caramels
Prep and cook time: 1 hour (not including time to cut and wrap caramels, save extra time for that)
2 1/4 cup brown sugar (14.5 oz.)
1 cup light corn syrup (11.5 oz)
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk or two cups half and half or light cream (the sweetened condensed milk makes for shorter cooking time)
1 cup butter, unsalted
1 tsp. vanilla
heavy, 3-qt. sauce pan (or 6-qt. if doubling the recipe, which I always do)
parchment paper (how I love parchment paper, i’ve never found anything that sticks to this stuff)
8×8 or 9×9 pan (or large jelly-roll cookie sheet if doubling recipe)
wax paper for wrapping caramels
- Every time before using a candy thermometer, clip a candy thermometer onto a pan full of cold water and bring it to a boil (make sure the thermometer is not touching the bottom of the pan). I cheat on a lot of things, but I never cheat on this. Boiling water should read 212°. Once the water is boiling, make note of any difference in your reading, and adjust your reading accordingly when you make the candy (for example, if thermometer reads 210° in boiling water instead of 212°, then take caramel off at 242° instead of 244°).
- Line pan with parchment paper, even up the sides. Prepare any apples, pretzels, or other things you’ll be dipping. Chop any nuts or prepare any candy you’ll be sprinkling on top.
- Cut butter into smaller, even sized cubes for even melting. Melt over low in sauce pan.
- Add and mix sugar, corn syrup, and sweetened condensed milk (or cream). Take care to pour sugar in center of pan. If any sugar crystals stick to side of pan, push them down with a damp pastry brush so they do not crystallize the entire batch and make you want to cry.
- Cook and stir on med.-high until boiling. Once boiling, clip on your candy thermometer (again, don’t let it touch the bottom of the pan).
- Reduce heat to about medium, adjusting so that you keep a moderate, steady boil. Stir frequently.
- Temperature does not raise at a steady rate, so watch thermometer closely. When your thermometer reaches thread stage (230–233°), take out any caramel that you would like to use as dip. When thermometer reaches late soft ball stage (234–240°), dip in a few apples for caramel apples.
- When thermometer reaches 244°, remove caramel from heat (this is low firm ball stage; reaching this stage from boiling will take about 30 minutes with sweetened condensed milk and longer with cream).
- Stir in vanilla. If dipping, start immediately. If making caramels, pour the caramel into the prepared pan. Either way, take care not to burn yourself, this stuff is so so hot.
- Allow to cool for several hours and use a butter knife or kitchen shears to cut pieces (UPDATE: a clever reader suggested a pizza cutter, I’m looking forward to trying this). Wrap in wax paper. Or to save on cutting time, just leave the whole batch out on the counter with a knife next to it and watch it gradually disappear.
And, for handy reference, here is the candy temperature list:
234–240° Soft ball
244–248° Firm ball
250–266° Hard ball