Wednesday, December 22, 2010


{Sprinkled with sea salt}
Homemade caramel is so tasty. Quite a few years back, when I was still in college I was introduced to this recipe around the holidays and took it home to my mom and had her help me make it. It's not that I think making candy is hard, but it was my first time, plus I love making stuff with Mom. The first time we made it we ended up cooking the candy mixture too long and instead of soft, chewy caramels, we got hard, crunchy toffee. Although not what we were going for, it sure was tasty. We knew we were on to something, we just needed to try again. We didn't get around to trying again until the next year. We over compensated a bit too much for the toffee texture of the previous year, and went for the soft ball texture. Turns out that is not what we wanted either. The caramel would hold it's shape as long as it was cold and in the fridge, but as soon as it reached room temperature it was oozing all over the plate. But once again, it tasted amazing, despite the lack of firm texture. (We should have dipped apples in it!) I had even dipped some of the caramels in chocolate while they were cool, but once they warmed up they broke through the chocolate shell and came oozing out!

It's been about three or four years since that last caramel incident, and I consider myself much more experienced in the kitchen now, so I thought it time to try again. With my mom out sailing the Florida Keys right now, I was on my own. So I did some research on what temperature to cook caramel to, was it soft ball or hard ball? No one really said, but I thought I had a handle on things and took my new Sunbeam candy thermometer out of the packaging. The thermometer came with a little case that had suggested temperatures for cooking candy to the different stages. And then, there it was, not hard ball or soft ball, but right in between, firm ball. The answer to my past two caramel let downs. Firm ball is between 240-250 degrees F. I was beyond thrilled at my new discovery and loving my new thermometer.

So off I went, stirring the sugar, Karo syrup and cream until my hand went numb. All the while carefully watching my thermometer making sure to get it at the right temperature. I decided, after reading a few blogs, I would stop cooking at 248 degrees. I had to keep wiping condensation off the thermometer so I could, again, make sure not to miss my rising temperature reaching the perfect cooking point. While I was stirring away my aunt called, so I pick up and start talking, and stirring, and then all of a sudden my, no longer favorite, candy thermometer broke loose from the clip holding it to the pan, and the clip and thermometer fell into the pot of boiling sugary syrup. After a few seconds of trying to figure out what to do, I quickly got off the phone, dug some tongs out of the drawer and fished out the thermometer and clip. But now what? The thermometer was covered in an almost caramel substance that was starting to harden and I couldn't see the temperature. So I get a paper towel and try to wipe it off, but the paper just starts to stick to the sticky, almost caramel covered thermometer. (This is so something that would happen to me.) I did manage to take the pot of caramel off the hot stove so it didn't burn while I was dealing with all this. So finally, I managed to get the thermometer cleaned to where I could read it, although it was difficult because the caramel was so hot! I put the pot back on the stove and cooked it to what I think was 248 degrees.

I'm not sure if the interruption in cooking did anything to the caramel, but this year it actually turned out. I cut it, left it a room temperature, dipped it in chocolate, wrapped it in wax papers and it managed to keep its shape. It's still on the softer side of caramel and perhaps it will just take more tries to get it 100% right. But no matter what the texture has been, this recipe always produces a very tasty caramel.

Caramel Recipe
In a large pot mix:
2 cups sugar
1 cube butter
1 3/4 Cup karo Syrup
1 cup heavy cream
Turn heat to low until butter is melted. Then turn up heat to boil.
When mixture boils add:
1 cup heavy cream
Continue to boil until mixture reached firm ball stage around 248-250 degrees F.
Take off heat and add:
1 teaspoon vanilla

Have a Tupperware or glass pan buttered or lined with parchment paper, you can butter the parchment paper too, pour mixture into pan to cool. (I put mine in the frigde)
To serve cut into squares, use a knife or buttered pizza cutter. You can sprinkle with sea salt, wrap in wax paper or dip in chocolate

{A little bit of caramel oozed out, but they didn't break the shells}

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails