Making homemade caramels is often thought of as a Christmas holiday tradition. Brett Utley, cameraman for KSL Studio 5 changed that for me. He brought in a sample of his family's caramel - and they were delicious. He shared his family tradition of getting together to make caramels every year. He also mentioned his mother, Connie Bean, started the tradition when she made caramels for Valentine's Day. Food creates memories, and in this case the entire family has a fond memory of their mother's caramels. Think of your own family food memories-- and add this tradition to the mix, but don't wait for the holidays.
Watch Becky Low and Brooke Walker make these delicious caramels on Studio 5
3 cups whipping cream
⅔ cup sweetened condensed milk (about ½ can)
2 cups sugar
2 cups light corn syrup
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup pecans, optional
Butter heat resistant small candy molds, or line a 9x13 pan with foil then lightly butter the foil; set aside.
Stir together cream and sweetened condensed milk in a saucepan over low heat; bring to simmer while candy syrup cooks.
Combine sugar and corn syrup in a large saucepan; stir to dissolve while sugar mixture comes to a boil. Place candy thermometer in pan and cook until mixture reaches “thread” stage (about 232 degrees). * See note below.
Slowly stir about ⅓-cup hot cream into sugar syrup (note, candy will foam up, but candy should not stop boiling). Continue process of adding cream until all has been added to the sugar syrup. This process may take as long as 45 minutes (depending on pan used and stove top), with 5 minutes between cream additions, in order to keep temperature of candy close to 232 degrees.
Reduce heat to maintain temperature of candy at 232 degrees and cook, stirring as needed, until caramel is golden brown and reaches desired consistency. This process may take between 20-40 minutes. Test consistency of caramel after about 15-20 minutes of cooking by dropping a small amount of hot candy in ice water. Caramel should not make the water cloudy and you should be able to pick the sample out of the cold water with your fingers. Taste sample, the consistency of the caramel drop should be firm enough to hold it’s shape when cold, yet soft and chewy to the mouth.
Remove pan from the heat, stir in vanilla and optional nuts. Spoon caramel into molds or spread in prepared pan. If using pan, when caramel is cold, lift caramel from the pan and peel back foil to cut into pieces and wrap if desired. Store in cool dry place to keep firm.
* Thread stage is determined when sugar syrup forms a thin firm thread when dripped from a spoon (about 232 degrees on a candy thermometer).