Monday, October 5, 2009

home made caramels

So, it's that time of year again! Every year I make candy for sale and kick it off with a donation of caramels to the United Way silent auction at work. I though I would document the process incise anyone is interested. It's not hard but does take time. A great project for the evening hours when you don't have much planed anyway.

The recipe is relay simple

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
1/2 cup nuts -- finely chopped (optional)
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 cups heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup light corn syrup
4 x 4.5 wax squares

1. Line a square pan, 8 x 8 x 2 with parchment paper or foil and grease the lining with butter or margarine.

2. Spread nuts in bottom of pan. *nuts are optional

3. Heat remaining ingredients to boiling in 3 quart heavy sauce pan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook, stirring frequently to 245ºF on candy thermometer or until small amount of mixture dropped into very cold water forms a firm ball that holds it's shape until pressed. Immediately spread over pecans; cool

4. When completly cooled remove from pan and cut into 1 inch squares, a pizza slicer works best for this. Wrap individually in waxed paper squares.

"Betty Crocker's new Cook Book"
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Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 79 Calories; 5g Fat (52.3% calories
from fat); trace Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 14mg
Cholesterol; 22mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0
Non-Fat Milk; 1 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.

NOTES : CHOCOLATE CARAMELS: Heat 2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate with the sugar mixture. If you use a 8x8x2 silicone pan you do not need to line or grease the pan, caramels unmold fine. DO NOT substute for the butter or sugar!

Candy making is best done on a cool evening as it will heat up your house. Also candy is susceptible to humidity. And don't rush the process or your caramel will be soft. I have in the past when a batch came out to soft, throw it back in the pot and cook it some more. As these are stored the oils will seep out making them rather oily. They will taste fine. IF you need to store them for a long period of time, keep them in the refrigerator and just bring to room temp before eating (or they will be hard cold).

So here it is. I have added all the ingredients together (excluding nuts). and here it is in the melting stage. I like to have my fire set at about 3 on my burner (using the medium sized burners, my stove has 3 burner sizes). (you can click on any of these for a large, high quality image). Caramel takes time. And you don't really have to hover over it BUT at the beginning when it starts to boil it can easily overflow if not tended to (like in this picture). This happens to me a lot because I tend to get sidetracked. But no problem, just carry on. you may need to reduce the heat at this point till it thickens up and is out of the lava stage. Caramel seems to jump to about 200ºF fairly fast but hols there between 200ºF & 225ºF for a really long time as it cooks down.
Here it has thickened (or reduced) enough that you can walk away and just check on it occasionally and give it a quick stir. You see the bubbles are still find but thicker and the color is darkening.
At this time it's a good idea to prep your pans. I like to use silicone pans because i don't have to grease them or line them. If you use a regular pan you must line it with either foil or parchment paper that has been greased. DO NOT use wax paper. it will permanently stick to the entire batch and you cannot get it off. Seems obvious right? well I did try it and it was suck a disappointment. Just spread your nuts out on the bottom of the pan.

Now your caramel is ready. it has reached a temperature of 245ºF which is soft ball stage. You can also test this by dropping some of the hot syrup into a very cold dish of water and seeing how it forms a ball. As you see the bubbles are thick and large and the caramel is a wonderful color.Now just pour the caramel into the pans slowly and let cool. the nuts (if you have decided to use them) will float through the caramel as it sits in the pan. I like to make my caramel one day and wrap it the next day. I cut it with a pizza slicer and wrap it with squares of waxed paper about 4.5" x 4". cleanup is easy (even if you have lava). water does the trick and will dissolve even the worse messes.

this makes wonderful gifts for the holidays as well.

I will chronicle my peanut brittle recipe as it gets dryer out side.

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