For years I have been going to make caramels for the holidays like I did with my mom when I was young. Cookies were our thing not holiday candy. We didn’t make them often, maybe a couple of years. But I always remembered those caramels, the rich flavor and soft non-grainy texture, a yummy holiday treat. It isn’t like my head is flooded full of memories, just this “make caramels” loop running year after year. This year I finally did it. Eeek the dreaded corn syrup! Well, so much for organic. After much searching online for corn syrup substitutes (honey, light molasses, agave) I decided it is the holidays, once a year corn syrup will not kill me. I’ve amended too many recipes only to have the taste fall short. Though buying it felt like an absolute sin. I did only buy one bottle (2 cups) and split the last cup between honey and agave. Taste = perfection.
I love mom’s recipes. It is necessary to read over and over prior to starting to uncover the missing parts. Not her fault, I’m just very literal. Mix together cream and half & half and pour in as one.
Making caramels is easy. It takes patience and a watchful eye on the candy thermometer. Yes, it does eventually get to temperature without turning up the heat. Dave Lebovitz has some good tips on working with caramel, well worth a look before you start. Ooooh and another really good tip – margarine works better than butter for greasing the pan. My great grandmother’s steel knife is perfect for cutting caramels. It is thin and the round edge doesn’t cut into the pan. Pre-cut the wax paper wrappers into a suitable size. I did about 15 at a time. Mine were about 4″ x 5″, sightly too big. The caramels are soft and roll nice into a little log. Making caramels is a fun holiday project. Kids love the rolling part, (along with eating this is what I remember.) Homemade caramels easily become a coveted gift. One final tip: this recipe makes a lot so cutting it in half would be just fine if you don’t plan on giving many away. Happy creating!