Some of you have been asking for the recipe for my caramels that are on my cover page. My dear friend and I have a tradition and make them every year. We were only making them once a year, but due to popular demand, we might just have to start making them more often. We started out making the traditional caramels only, but this year we tried the chocolate pecan version as well. Both are keepers, and both are now part of our annual tradition. We are thinking of making a new kind this year as well. You’ll just have to stay tuned to find out what we create. They are easy to make, they just take time and a lot of patience. The hardest part for me though, is the cutting and wrapping them individually. This is very time consuming. They make a great little gift though, and everyone will instantly be begging for more. Once you start making them, you have to stir them constantly until you pour them into the prepared baking dish, otherwise they will burn and stick. The hardest part though, is to not eat too many at a time. They can be very addicting.
Grease a 9×13 baking pan with butter. Make sure you grease the whole thing well. Set aside.
1 lb butter
4 cups sugar
4 cups heavy whipping cream
4 cups Karo dark syrup (2 small bottles)
Put everything together, except only 1/2 (2 cups) of the heavy whipping cream, in a large pot and cook on a medium flame and stir constantly. You will need a candy thermometer in the pot, but you can put that in once it reaches the first boil. I stir my caramels in a slow and steady figure 8 motion. Be patient. This is going to take awhile. Once it starts to boil, use your candy thermometer. You want the caramels to reach 230-250* F or about 110-125*C. Add the rest of the whipping cream, and bring it back to a second boil. Again, stirring constantly, in the slow figure 8 motion. This time temperature is VERY important. Bring it to 230-250* F or 110-125*C. This is called soft ball stage, and it should be on your candy thermometer. If you live in a higher altitude, like I do, you want the temperature to get closer to the 250* mark. If you like it a little more like a toffee, and a little crunchier, then cook it a little longer. The color will have that rich caramel color. Once it is done, carefully pour the whole thing into your greased baking pan, and let it sit and cool. The cooling takes at least about 6 hours, but I usually let it cool overnight. I leave it uncovered to cool. Once it has completely cooled and set, cut to your desired size and wrap individually in parchment paper. The good thing is if, it doesn’t set right, just put it back in the pot and re-boil it and take it to the proper temperature. You can also keep it soft and more liquid if you want to use it for a cake or ice cream topping too or a filling for something else. It can be as versatile as you want it to be.
Chocolate Pecan Caramels
The basic recipe is the same, only when you get to the second boil, add 1 1/2 bars of baking chocolate and incorporate into the mix. Chop pecans to a small chop and line on the bottom of the prepared baking pan before pouring in your caramel mixture. If you don’t like pecans, substitute whatever type of nuts you like.