Generations of people have been enjoying satiny-smooth homemade caramels during the holiday season. And the reason is simple: They taste so good.
I remember the caramels my Uncle Fritz and Auntie Donna used to make each December, along with their homemade taffy. (The taffee-making was a tradition that started with my Grandma and Grandpa Menard.
The caramels (and taffy) were always a welcome sight to me, and since Uncle Fritz just happened to be my godfather, I always had a nice sampling at Christmas.
I regret not taking in one of their candy-making sessions before they died. It would have been nice to learn a thing or two from them. (I do believe that at least one of their five children, Kim, continues the tradition, so it might not be too late.)
I got to thinking about my relatives’ expertise after seeing the following recipe from Spice Islands in a recent email. I just might have to give it a try.
I know the caramels wouldn’t be as good as my uncle and aunt’s, but it would be a nice start.
Sea Salt Caramels
1½ cups Karo Light or Dark Corn Syrup
2 cups heavy or whipping cream, divided
1 cup milk
2 cups sugar
¼ teaspoon Spice Island Fine Grind Sea Salt
1 tablespoon Spice Island Pure Vanilla Extract
½ teaspoon Spice Island Coarse Grind Sea Salt
Line an 8- or 9-inch square pan with foil (leave a 1-inch overhang on two sides) and spray with cooking spray.
Combine corn syrup, 1 cup cream, milk, sugar and fine sea salt in a 4-quart saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking (at a low boil) and stirring occasionally until temperature on candy thermometer reaches 234 degrees or small amount of mixture dropped into very cold water forms a soft ball which flattens on removal. This will take about 40 minutes.
Gradually add remaining 1 cup cream in a thin steady stream, stirring constantly. Continue cooking over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until temperature on candy thermometer reaches 244 degrees or small amount of mixture dropped into very cold water forms a firm ball which does not flatten on removal. This will take about 30 minutes. Remove from heat.
Stir in vanilla. Pour into prepared pan. (Note: Do not scrape side of saucepan.) Place on wire rack and cool 1 hour. Sprinkle top evenly with loose sea salt.
Lift cooled candy from pan using foil. Cut into 1-inch squares. If desired, wrap individually in wax paper or plastic wrap.
Yield: 2 pounds.