Friday, December 18, 2009

Soft Caramels

*I'm using Melanie's picture from My Kitchen Cafe until I get my picture downloaded. I can't find my card reader.
I finally started and finished my Christmas goodie plates. I decided to try some new things this year instead of my old standard tried and true goodies that I always do. It has been really fun! There has been one total fail so far, but the rest have been yummy successes.

My first experiment was Caramels! I've always wanted to try my hand at them, but was intimidated. That is all changed now. They are not hard at all, they just take a little bit of time and watching. They turned out so incredible!! This was a huge success and I hope you try it. You won't be disappointed.
I found the recipe on My Kitchen Cafe.
This particular caramel recipe is unusual in that you don't need to stir after adding the second half of the sweetened condensed milk. This is a bonus because you don't need to slave away at the stove stirring for hours - but still be careful to check your candy thermometer often to make sure the correct temperature has been reached (and not exceeded!). Also, in order for the caramel not to scorch, remember to cook the caramel over medium-low heat. This requires time and patience because the caramel won't cook as quickly as at high heat, but trust me, unscorched caramels are worth the wait! This really does take a long time, almost an hour. Make sure when you stir in the vanilla that your spoon doesn't touch the bottam of the pan.

*Finally, when pouring the caramel onto a buttered baking sheet, do not scrape the caramel from the bottom and sides of the pan. Simply turn the pan and let the cooked caramel roll out onto the baking sheet - when it has stopped flowing out, stop pouring and resist the temptation to scrape up the caramel stuck to the sides and bottom. You don't want the icky stuff left over on the pan.

2 cups sugar
1 ½ cups light corn syrup
1 can sweetened condensed milk (add only ½ to begin with)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 ½ cups chopped toasted pecans (optional)

Butter the sides and bottom of a 9X13-inch pan. Set aside.

In a medium heavy saucepan, add sugar, corn syrup, 1/2 can sweetened condensed milk, salt and butter. Over medium-low heat, stirring constantly to ensure the sugar is completely melted, bring the mixture to a boil and add the rest of the sweetened condensed milk when it begins to boil. Insert the candy thermometer and clip onto your pan at this point. Once the second half of the condensed milk has been added and the mixture is boiling again, stop stirring to prevent sugar crystallization (which means the caramels will have a grainy texture). Boil the mixture still at medium-low heat, without stirring until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage on a candy thermometer (234 degrees F). If you like your caramels a bit firmer, you can cook them up to 248 degrees F, which is firm ball stage but I prefer mine really soft (I will warn you that most people find this stage a bit too soft so use your best judgment and preference). When the caramel reaches the right temperature, immediately remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla and toasted pecans (if using). Carefully pour the hot mixture into the prepared pan without scraping the bottom and sides of the pan. Let the caramel cool completely before cutting into squares and wrapping in waxed paper.

* I cooked mine until about 240 degrees F and they are the absolute perfect softness. Not too hard, not too soft, just right.

1 comment:

Jami Key said...

I've been wanting to try this recipe but I've been scared. You've inspired me.