Some of you have been asking me for the recipe to my caramels that are featured on my cover page. So here it is.
My friend and I have a tradition of making caramels every year. Normally we just made the traditional caramels, but this year we also added the chocolate pecan version as well. For this season, we are thinking of making a new version too, but we are not sure yet. Although it is safe to say that both the traditional and the chocolate pecan versions will be made on an annual basis, however, by popular demand, we might actually start making them more frequently.
Making the caramels is very easy. But they do require a lot of patience and time. And once you start the process, you have to remain there, stirring them constantly, until you pour them into the greased baking pan, or they will stick and burn.
Prepare a 9×13 baking pan by really spreading butter all over the sides and the bottom. Set aside. You will also need a candy thermometer and a large pot.
1 lb butter
4 cups heavy whipping cream
4 cups sugar
4 cups Karo dark syrup (2 bottles)
Put everything together in the pot, except only use 1/2 the cream. On a medium heat, you need to stir constantly, in a slow, steady figure 8 motion. This is going to take awhile, so be patient. You want the temperature to reach between 230-250*F or a soft ball stage on your candy thermometer. It will be a light caramel color and will be very bubbly. Once it reaches temperature, add the rest of the cream, and bring to a second boil, once again, between 230-250*F or 110-125*C. The reason for the temperature variation is altitude. I live in Colorado, and we are at a higher elevation than people at sea level, so it affects the boiling time and temperature. But if you live at sea level, and you want it more like a toffee, then cook it until it reaches the higher temperature. It will be more like a toffee, and will be a little harder and crunchier, rather than the soft, melt in your mouth caramels. Once it reaches the desired temperature, immediately pour into the prepared baking dish. and set aside to cool. It needs to set for at least 6 hours, but I usually leave mine over night. I leave it uncovered while it sets. Have no fear though, if it still does not set, just put it all back in the pot and re-boil it until it reaches temperature. You can also use the softer version for a cake or ice cream topping or a filling. Once the caramels are set, cut them to your desired size and wrap individually in parchment paper. The cutting and the wrapping takes a lot of time and patience. Hang in there. They are well worth it. They also make great gifts.
Chocolate Pecan Caramels
It is the same recipe and procedure, except when preparing the baking pan, chop pecans to a small chop, or whatever nuts you like, and place them on the bottom of the baking pan. When your caramels get to the second boiling stage, also add 1 1/2 bars of baking chocolate and incorporate well with your caramel mixture.