Christmas Caramels

IMG_1205 (1)Christmas Day is where the hope of the whole holiday season lies. It’s amazing to wake up on Christmas morning and enjoy the stillness and beauty.  I am cat sitting for a friend and enjoyed a quiet early morning drive to her apartment.  It was bright and sunny, full of promise of joy.

I love incorporating our family’s traditions and modernizing them.  The first Christmas I spent with my husband’s family I ate about a plate of these caramels.  They were soft and chewy and got stuck in my teeth– passing the test of any good caramel. But I wanted more, and so without anyone looking, I took the course sea salt and sprinkled the piece I was eyeing.  Now I was in heaven.

About 12 months later during the following holiday season my husband announced he was going to make them and I scoffed. Candy making is supposed to be hard.  Lo and behold, as I stood there in disbelief, this wasn’t challenging.  Messy, yes, but not difficult.  Here’s how he did it:

  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 2 cups of half & half, divided
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (optional)
  • Large, heavy pot
  • Candy thermometer

Butter an 8×8 square glass pan really well.  You can also use silicone, or wax paper, but you’ll still need to butter the sides of the pan, this stuff is sticky. If you’re using the chopped nuts, place them in the bottom of the pan.  In a large, heavy pot, combine the sugar, corn syrup and 1 cup of the half & half. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly so the syrup does not burn.  Then add the remaining cup of half & half.

Continue stirring, until syrup reaches 245 degrees.  You can also try using the ice water method, dropping a small amount of the syrup into ice water and when it forms a firm ball its at the correct temperature.  NOTE: We’ve had less success with this route and had to recook the caramel because it was too soft or over done and repurposed into sprinkles (loooonnnnngggggg story). Go spend $10 and get a candy thermometer. Getting to 245 degrees will take a little while, be patient.

When ready, pour into greased pan.  Allow to cool completely.  Prying it out of the pan can be a little challenging, but if it’s cooked correctly you should be able to slide a butter knife or spatula underneath and pop the caramel out.  With a sharp knife, cut into one inch squares.  At this point, I sprinkle a little sea salt on some of the pieces and then wrap them in wax paper strips.

Think creatively here, since these are so easy you can whip em up for other occasions.  They are great for gifts and we actually made them for our guest welcome bags at our wedding.  Don’t let the candy process intimidate you!

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