Tuesday, December 7, 2010

For the love of caramel

My husband is always outdoing me in the kitchen.  I spend a day baking my favorite Christmas cookies, and then he humbles me with his first-ever attempt at making homemade caramels.  And they were fantastic, of course, just like he is.

He made these caramels because he's a little stir-crazy now that fishing season is over.  We were out grocery shopping, and he decided to buy a $5 candy thermometer from the houseware aisle.  He stocked up on butter and cream, then spent a Sunday night watching NFL football in the kitchen while the sugar-syrup boiled, browned and bubbled into caramel.

His caramels turned out perfectly soft, with a nice rich browned butter flavor.  What was his secret?  He kept the burner on low and just let the sugar syrup slowly reach the hard-ball stage, about 245 degrees.  He actually kept one batch of caramel on the burner for more than 3 hours before he turned it up and let it reach the ideal temperature.  The slow boil freed him up to do some other things around the house.  (Yes, he has a short-attention span.)

I still can't believe he made the perfect caramels on the first try.  I'm never that fearless in the kitchen, but he's not afraid to fail.  I've still got a lot to learn from him (but don't tell him that).

Here's the church cookbook recipe for homemade caramels, if you want to try these yourself.  Remember, a $5 candy thermometer will work just fine.


Cream Caramels
(A great Christmas gift!)
From Elk Creek Lutheran Church cookbook, Kensett, Iowa
  • 2 C. sugar
  • 3/4 C. light corn syrup
  • 1/2 C. butter
  • 2 C. light cream
  • 1/2 C. finely chopped nuts (opt.)
Butter square pan, 8x8x2-inches. Spread nuts in pan.  Combine sugar, corn syrup, butter and half the cream in large saucepan.  Heat to boiling over medium heat, stirring occassionally.  Stir in remaining cream.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, to 245 degrees on candy thermometer (or until small amount of mixture dropped into very cold water forms a firm ball).  Immediately spread mixture evenly over nuts in pan.  Cut into 1-inch squares.  Wrap in squares of plastic wrap.

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