Caramel, even the word sounds silky and wonderful. Car-a-mel, it just rolls off the tongue. And your tongue will thank you when you put this candy on it.
Caramel is not difficult to make, it only takes a little uninterrupted time and then you have these beautiful little cooked sugar jewels. Wrap them in pieces of lowly waxed paper and suddenly waxed paper never looked so good!
I like to make one kind of candy or another each holiday season to put in with the homemade cookie packages that I give away. In the past, I’ve made a batch of caramels, wrapped them up and been done with it. Well, this year, after I made the batch with the recipe I always use, they were so greasy that I wasn’t happy with them (maybe “buttery” is a better term). So then I tried a recipe from a new baking cookbook of a renowned chef. That recipe had very little flavor.
Sigh, since I wanted to publish a recipe for all of our Gr8 Friends it needed to be perfect…and I finally found perfect! At least, perfect in my opinion.
My mother found a wonderful old book in her mother’s attic. It’s about 4 inches thick, and it’s really 3 books in one: The People’s Home Library – a Library of Three Practical Books: Home Medical Book, Home Recipe Book and Home Stock Book.
And there, in this incredible treasure that was published in 1914, that’s right, at the start of WWI, was a recipe for Creamy Caramels. Well, the recipe is actually 8 times what I made…yes, it would actually make 288 caramels! (Note to self: if almost 300 caramels are required, just take these measurements times 8!)
I added some salt to the recipe, both table salt and sea salt; had to find a substitute for glucose, which is corn syrup; and upped the vanilla a smidge. And voilà! the caramels were delicious! My friend, Marta, was kind enough to do a taste test. As soon as she popped it into her mouth, she closed her eyes and savored the flavor saying, “These taste just like my grandma used to make!”
So, my friends, it seems like we have a winner. This does take some stirring time, so leave yourself about 30 minutes for that step. But once you pour them out, they just have to set and cool until you decide to take the next step.
Be sure to keep these in a sealed bag or covered container.
From "The People's Home Book" published in 1914, the original recipe makes almost 300 candies, and I cut it down by 1/8. So feel free to double, triple or quadruple this recipe.
Prepare a baking sheet or a marble or granite slab by spreading some butter in a 15"x15" area. (The caramel will probably spread to about 12" or 13", but having extra is good.
Put the cream, sugar and corn syrup into a small saucepan over medium heat.
Cook, stirring continuously until mixture reaches 250F on a candy thermometer. Mixture will boil, modulate the heat on your stove so it doesn't boil over.
When mixture reaches 250F, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla and 1/4 teaspoon table salt. Mixture will sizzle a little, but stir until combined.
Then immediately pour the caramel onto the prepared surface.
Sprinkle the sea salt over the top of the caramel and let cool, at least 2 hours.
When mixture is completely cooled start at the long edge, if there is one, mine spread into an almost a perfect circle, and roll up tightly.
Butter the edge of a bench scraper or knife and cut 36 pieces.
Wrap each piece in waxed paper.