Caramels Tested Recipe
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This recipe produces a soft and chewy
Caramel with a smooth and creamy texture. Very few ingredients are needed,
just heavy cream, brown and white sugars, kosher salt, and pure vanilla
extract. You can cut
the caramel into any size or shape you like. I like either small squares or
long thin strips that I wrap in wax paper, twisting the ends to keep the
Caramels fresh. Homemade Caramels are perfect for gift giving or you may
want to make a batch or two for your next bake sale. This Caramel recipe is
adapted from a wonderful book
called "Baking From The Heart" by Michael J. Rosen.
I know I am repeating myself, so if you have read the head note
for the Maple Pecan Caramels, you can skip this part and go straight to
the recipe. Caramels are about boiling white and brown sugars, along with
some heavy cream, and with that comes the problem of sugar
crystallization. Luckily there are a few precautions you can take to help
prevent this from happening. But first, let's talk about equipment and that you
should never make candy on a humid
day unless you have adequate air conditioning. The equipment; it is
important to use a heavy duty saucepan so the candy will not scorch under high
temperatures. Be sure to use a
spoon to stir the syrup as the sugar crystals will not stick
to wood as easily as they will to metal. And most importantly, buy a good
mercury candy thermometer with a metal clip so you can fasten it to the side of
the pan. When using a candy thermometer make sure the bulb of the thermometer
does not rest on the bottom of the pan as this can cause an inaccurate
temperature reading. It is also important to read the temperature at eye level
and you may have to wipe the steam off the thermometer first in order to read
the numbers. If you think your candy thermometer may be inaccurate, you can test
its' accuracy by placing it in a saucepan of boiling water. The temperature
should read 212 degrees F (100 degrees C). If you find your thermometer is off
by a degree or two, simply adjust your recipe to take this into account. Another
thing about candy thermometers are that they are fragile so after each use place
in hot water (not cold) to dissolve the sugar coating. Never place a hot
thermometer into cold water as this can cause it to break. And be sure to store
your thermometer away from other kitchen utensils so it won't get banged around.
Lastly, cleaning the saucepan can be a problem. The best way to remove all that
hard caramelized sugar is to fill the saucepan with water and bring it to a
boil. Turn off the heat and let it sit until the sugar dissolves.
Now, the important part. To
prevent sugar crystallization, which means your caramels will have a grainy
texture, make sure to stir the ingredients constantly until they reach the
boiling point. (This ensures that the sugars have completely melted.) Brush down the sides
of the pan, with a heatproof pastry brush that has been dipped in warm water, to
remove any sugar crystals that may have formed on the sides of the saucepan.
Clamp a candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan. Do not stir the boiling
syrup, just brush down the sides of the pan, with a heatproof pastry brush that
has been dipped in warm water, to remove any sugar crystals that may have formed
on the sides of the saucepan. Watch the caramel closely and remove from heat
once it reaches 245 degrees F or 118 degrees C. Stir in the vanilla extract and pour into your
prepared pan. Let it cool undisturbed, at room temperature, for about eight
hours or until set.
Then cut into squares or rectangles. Caramels can be stored in an airtight
container at room
an 8 x 8 inch (20 x 20 cm) baking pan.
In a heavy medium
sized saucepan, stir together the cream, sugars, and salt. Place the saucepan
over medium high heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a wooden
spoon. Once the mixture boils, with a heatproof pastry brush that has been
dipped in warm water, wash down the sides of the saucepan to remove any sugar
crystals that may have formed. Clamp a candy thermometer to the side of the
saucepan. Boil the mixture over medium high heat (do not stir) until the
temperature reaches 245 degrees F (118 degrees C). (If sugar crystals form on
the sides of the pan, wash them down with a heatproof pastry brush that has been
dipped in warm water.)
heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Pour the caramel into your prepared pan
and let cool, undisturbed, for at least eight hours, or overnight.
With a sharp
knife, (oiled with a tasteless vegetable oil, like safflower), and with a sawing
motion, cut into squares or rectangles. These caramels can be stored at room
temperature, between layers of wax paper, for several days. Caramels make a nice
gift, especially when wrapped in wax paper or cellophane.
Makes about 48
pieces. Preparation time 40 minutes.
Rosen, Michael J.
Baking from the Heart. Broadway Books. New York: 2004.
1 1/2 cups
(360 ml) heavy whipping cream (has a 36-40% butterfat content)
1 cup (200
grams) granulated white sugar
1 cup (210
grams) packed light brown sugar
teaspoons kosher salt
teaspoons pure vanilla extract