Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Holiday Old-Fashioned Caramels Recipe

As a child I remember my mom working in the kitchen making many different types of Christmas candies.  All of us children were instructed to stay away from the stove while she was busy stirring.  She didn't want us to get burned by the hot sugars she was transforming into wonderful Christmas gems.

It is awesome carrying on some of her Christmas Candy making.  It makes me smile telling my own children the same warning while I am working at the stove.  I have the strick rule - when I am getting ready to pour EVERYONE has to be out of the kitchen.  I would hate to have an accident happen and some get burned severely.  They totally understand.  But have a difficult time waiting for the end product to cool so they can get one sample or more.

Okay, now everyone gets to learn about my many trials at successfully making Caramels.  I grew up in Iowa but relocated to the Western side of Nebraska many years ago.  I started one Christmas, before I was blessed with children trying to make my mom's Caramels.  I followed the directions precisely.  They would never come out correctly.  They would be rock hard and inedible.  I tried two or three years in a row with no success.  

I finally decided maybe since I was close to the Mountains in Colorado I needed to drop the temp down to what a person should do at a high altitude - even though I all of my other recipes worked without adjusting for a high altitude.

I was so excited to find out that was the problem.  And waaalaaaa my Caramels were a success and have continued to be successful.

This year the Caramel making process has been a little challenging since having major knee surgery.  But it has not slowed by Christmas baking and candy making down one bit.  As you can see by the photo below - I have just had to come up with creative ways to overcome.  And I have :)

Here the recipe I use thanks to the Pillsbury Complete Cookbook


1 cup unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 (14oz) can sweetened condensed milk (Not evaporated)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Line 9-inch square pan with foil, so the foil extends over sides of pan, lightly butter foil.

In heavy 3 - quart saucepan, melt butter.  Add  brown sugar , mix well.  Stir in corn syrup.

Cook over medium-low until sugar dissolves and mixture is will blended.

Remove sauce pan from heat.  Stir in sweetened condensed milk. 

I love the beauty of creating sweet candies.

Cook over medium heat for 30 to 30 minutes, stirring constantly, until candy thermometer reaches firm-ball stage (244 degrees - UNLESS at high altitude *Cook until candy thermometer reached 234 degrees).

Love my Ove Glove can't imagine Christmas Candy Making without it!

Remove saucepan from heat.  Stir in vanilla.  Pour into buttered foil lined pan.  Cool about 30 minutes.

When candy has completely set, carefully remove from pan by lifting foil.  Remove foil side of candy.  With thin-bladed knife, cut candy into pieced, using a light sawing motion.  Wrap individual pieces in waxed paper.  Store in refrigerator. 

As you can see by the photos.  I love to use the Glad Press and Seal for end product.  It is great and relatively easy to use, plus it seals easy with a twist - and the Limited Edition Holiday Pattern makes for a great presentation.
If anyone noticed in the photos my triple batch of caramel was very close to the top of the pot.  What I like to do is when the caramel has reached 234 degrees - I carefully scoop out 2 cups of it - which leaves enough room to let the rest of the batch get to the proper temperature.

I add 1 teaspoon of vanilla into the caramel that was removed.  I then use the 2 cups of caramel sauce to dip apples into.  It is the perfect consistency and tastes so good.

So is anyone available to help me wrap my triple batch of caramels?  I am still wrapping them - and it has been three days.  But it is so worth it. 

Next I will be making Peanut Brittle and there is a wonderful family story and recipe to go along with it.  Also stay turned and pass it around I will be hosting my first giveaway in a week or two thanks to King Arthur .  It is an Awesome Giveaway.  Don't miss out!


  1. Holy cow those look good! My FIL would love you, he loves caramels. And I am impressed, that you made these even with dealing with the surgery!

  2. Thanks Emmy - I am just glad I am done wrapping them - that way my boys don't think they can eat all of them :) Just getting read to blog about the toffee and snowballs I made yesterday. I love the holidays!

  3. So my question is...what on earth are you doing with all these goodies? Your neighbors are lucky dogs!

  4. Thank you for posting this recipe. My mother used to make them just like this recipe. I didn't get the recipe from her and she passed away several years ago and I have missed them. She made them for our family every year. I am going to pass this recipe on to my children and my brothers and sister. You have brought back to us a bit of momma this Christmas. Thank you so much.


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