Buttery, soft, and sweet homemade caramels are the best food gift ever! Make a double batch and share this old-fashioned candy with friends and family.
These may possibly be the most dangerous thing that has ever been cooked in my kitchen.
Not because it will hurt, although it could if you aren’t careful, playing with molten lava temperature melted sugar, but because you need to get them wrapped and out of the house as quickly as possible.
Do not send more than a few of these at a time to friends, as these will also be dangerous at their house.
Do bring them to work for brownie points and potlucks!
You and everyone else who eats these will not be able to stop eating them until your teeth hurt, your stomach hurts, or you have eaten all of them.
Once they’re all gone, you will be thinking of them for days to come.
CANDY THERMOMETER AND CALIBRATION
Calibrating your candy thermometer before starting will help ensure the proper temperature is reached.
Testing your candy thermometer occasionally is also a good idea. A 2-degree difference can make or break for most candy recipes.
To test my thermometer, I boil some water and put my thermometer in the water and let it sit for a few minutes and then read it.
Mine reads 212 degrees F. Water boils at 212 Degrees F. My target temperature is 244°F.
This recipe is written for the seal level of Tulsa, Oklahoma, which is 722 feet above sea level. There is no need to adjust to the altitude in my situation.
Every sea level has a different boiling point for water. If you are in a higher altitude, your water may boil at a different temperature and that is the temperature you are aiming for on your thermometer.
If you find your thermometer is off, make the appropriate adjustments to your target candy temperature. In other words, if your thermometer is reading 210 degrees F for boiling water, your target for this recipe will be 242°F. You need to SUBTRACT the same degrees from the cooking temperature that your thermometer is reading BELOW 212°F.
If it reads 215°F in boiling water then your target for this recipe will be 247°F. You need to ADD the same degrees to the recipe that your thermometer reads OVER 212°F.
I also calibrate my thermometer every time before I start.
Making homemade candy requires cooking sugar to certain stages depending on what type of candy your making.
I cook mine to 244°F. That’s the upper end of the softball stage and just shy of the firm ball stage. At this temperature, they will be a bit softer than the one you buy in the candy aisle.
For firmer caramels, cook the mixture until you reach 245°F. Do not cook any higher than 250°F though or you will have a bit of trouble cutting them. They will be hard and tough to chew. Ask me how I know…….
It will take much longer to reach the last 5 to 10 degrees than it did to reach the first 230°F or so.
Do not get impatient during the cooking process. It will be worth the wait. Trust me on this!
Do not start making these if you have something else to do or are pressed for time.
Even though they are easy to make, they take a long time to cook. Mine usually takes about 45 minutes to come to temperature once the mixture started boiling.
Ron and I made a double batch of these on my last visit.
Do not try a double batch in a standard size soup pot that comes with standard pot and pan set, it will bubble over. Been there, done that, what a mess.
You also do not need to stir continuously when making a double batch, just stay near it and give a good stir every couple of minutes.
There may have even been a period of up to 10 minutes that neither of us checked the pot.
They turned out fine, even with changing pans and turning our backs for a few minutes.
With that being said, I probably would not turn my back on this for more than 5 minutes.
Prepare 2 pans for pouring, there will be way too much for one.
Weather will affect the time it takes to make this recipe. The more humid the air is, the longer it will take to cook and candy.
Barometric pressure also plays a role.
I usually have the best luck on sunny days.
Not to say you can’t make this during rainy or snowy days, you can. You just might find yourself with super soft caramels. If it holds its shape a bit, it can still be cut and wrapped.
MORE HOMEMADE CANDY RECIPES
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- In a large pot, add butter and heavy cream.
- Add the corn syrup to the middle of the pot and allow it to settle in a bit.
- To the center of the pot, add the sugars, being careful to avoid getting sugar on the sides of the pan. If this happens, use a pastry brush moistened with melted butter or water and gently brush the sides of the pan to get the sugar off the sides.
- Allow this to sit in the pan for a few minutes to allow the cream to start working its way into the sugars.
- During this time, prepare a 9 X 13 baking dish by spraying it with baking spray. Cover the pan with non-stick foil or parchment paper and spray that with baking spray as well.
- I use 2 sheets of parchment paper, one cut as wide as the long side, and one cut as wide as the short side. I place those in the pan leaving an overhang on all four sides.
- Once the pan is prepared, add vanilla, if using, to a small bowl set near the stove.
- Gently start pushing the sugar mound down into the moistened sugar on the bottom, again being careful not to get sugar on the sides of the pan, use the above method if it does happen.
- Turn heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally until mixture begins to boil. This will take 15 to 25 minutes depending on your idea of medium heat and the weather. I find it takes a little longer in humid weather and even longer on rainy days.
- Once it begins to boil, clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pot.
- Begins stirring constantly until candy thermometer reads firm ball stage or 244°F. This can take 25 to 45 minutes, again this is dependent on exact heat and weather.
- Once the candy is ready, turn off the heat and add vanilla if using. Up to ½ cup of chopped nuts can also be added if desired.
- Immediately pour into prepared pan, being very careful, this mixture is very hot.
- Allow caramel to cool completely in pan.
- Once cool, remove from pan and cut into the desired size. I usually get 90 to 100 two to three bite caramels.
- Wrap each caramel in wax paper or candy wrapper.