Making caramel was a very last minute decision yesterday. Not a lot of planning and blog post prepping went into these. As I am writing this I am trying to figure out how I will transition into the caramels…Okay, this will do: I guess I can tell you why I decided to make homemade caramel candies though.
My friend was coming over to make some homemade girl scout cookies. Samoas and Thin Mints. I realized I didn’t have any little Kraft caramel candies in the house to use for the coconut caramel layer of the Samoas (That post is coming soon…). And I was too lazy to go to the store to get some. So I had a novel idea, why not just make the caramel?!? I am nuts. I am too lazy to go buy the candy, but I am not too lazy to make it myself. I surprise myself constantly. Want to be friends? If you do, be prepared, I am literally off my rocker, not sometimes, but most of the time.
I randomly had all the ingredients on hand and went for it. 40 minutes later, we had caramel. Real life, gooey, sticky, chewy, buttery, delicious caramel. Here’s the crappiest, super duper lame part: I gave up dessert for Lent (which isn’t lame, it’s lame that that means I can’t eat the caramel right now). So I didn’t even try the it. My friend did though. She was the taste tester for all of our baking done last night (caramel, Samoas and Thin Mints).
We used half of the batch for the Samoas and the other half we turned into candies. The half for the samoas was put in to the microwave with a little milk to melt it to mix with the coconut. And then we cut up little pieces of parchment paper to wrap around the cut pieces of caramel.
This wasn’t nearly as hard to make as I thought it would be. You sort of just throw all the ingredients in a pot and let the temperature rise. Then pour it into a pan and wait a few minutes for it to firm up. And there you have it, CARAMEL.
Super, 1 more thing to add to my list of items that are 1000% times better homemade then store bought. Up until this point I had been totally content using the little store bought square caramel candies in recipes. Now I will have to make homemade caramel every time I need it. We were trying to distinguish the difference in taste from homemade to store bought. Bottom line: homemade taste like rich buttery goodness and the store bought tastes like plastic. Seriously, that is the conclusion we made. Sure, store bought tastes like sugar, and butter and sticks to your teeth; all the aspects we love about caramel. But it also has the oh.so.lovely flavor of plastic.
I think we have become accustomed to that plastic flavor that so much of the food we buy has. We just settle on it because it is easy and convenient. I get it, I do. But after you try this real life homemade goodness, you will not longer settle for processed convenience. I am becoming a snob. I will admit it.
The recipe makes a ton of little caramel candies. Anywhere from 60-100, depending on what size you make them. If you cut them in 1/2 inch cubes, you will get closer to 100. But if you cut them in 1 inch pieces, closer to 60.
Recipe from Giver’s Log
2 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1-14oz can sweetened condensed milk (I used fat free and it worked great)
1 cup butter, cubed
1 tsp vanilla
Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat. When it has completely melted, add brown sugar, corn syrup and condensed milk. Stir until thoroughly combined.
Cook and stir on medium-high heat until it starts to boil. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan, but don’t let it tough the bottom.
Once it has started to boil, reduce the heat to medium and allow it stay at moderate steady boil until it reaches 245 degrees (This takes about 30 minutes).
*It will seem like it is taking forever, and then all of a sudden in the last couple minutes the temperature will shoot up, so watch it closely towards the end.
Remove from heat, stir in vanilla. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and pour the caramel into the sheet.
*The caramel won’t fill the entire surface of the cookie sheet (I was using a bigger one though). And that’s okay that it doesn’t cover the entire surface. The edges of the poured caramel don’t have to be perfect since you will be cutting it into pieces anyway.
Cool for at least 15 minutes and cut into squares.
*cut into long strips, then cut the long strips into little pieces.
Wrap the squares in pieces of parchment paper, and there you have it, caramel candy.