For at least a decade, I've been perfecting my Christmas candy making. With gluten free kids, making dozens of baked goods didn't make sense, so I put my time and efforts into learning the art of making the best candy. My good friends and neighbors all look forward to our assortment of candies at Christmas time. I'm excited to share my learnings with you! We are starting with my all time favorite soft caramels. These little gems are heaven in every bite. Christmas wouldn't be the same without them!
The Best Soft Caramels
Makes a 9x13 slab of caramels
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
2 teaspoons vanilla
Wax paper for wrapping
Line a 9x13-inch dish with parchment paper. Set aside. In a medium heavy saucepan, add sugar, corn syrup, 1/2 can sweetened condensed milk, salt, and butter. Over medium-low heat, bring the mixture to a slow boil, stirring constantly to make sure the sugar is completely melted. Pour in the remaining sweetened condensed milk. Using a candy thermometer, bring the mixture back to a boil, stirring constantly, then boil over medium-low heat until the mixture reaches soft ball stage, or between 234° and 248° depending on how firm you want them. Once it reaches the right temperature, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Carefully pour the hot mixture into the parchment prepared dish. Let the caramel cool completely. Cut into squares and wrap in wax paper.
Gather your ingredients. You will need sugar, light corn syrup, sweetened condensed milk, salt, butter, and vanilla.
In a medium heavy saucepan, combine 2 cups sugar, 1 1/2 cups light corn syrup, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 cup butter (2 sticks). Pour in half of the 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk. Set up your candy thermometer. A good candy thermometer makes candy making so much more precise and easy. I have this one from Amazon, and it is really nice! It clips onto my pan and has a digital reader with an alarm.
Set your desired temperature. I set mine to 240°F and that produces the softness of caramels we like best. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium low heat, stirring constantly, This will be a slow process, but you will be rewarded for your time in making this. Once it is starting to boil, pour in the remaining sweetened condensed milk. Now comes the long part. You get to stand at the stove and stir the caramel for quite a while until it reaches the desired temperature. You MUST stir constantly or you will get browned bits from the bottom of the pan. I listen to music, read, or talk to someone on the phone while doing this. I also have to constantly switch hands stirring and drink lots of water. This is a workout!
Once you hit the magic number, remove from the heat. (YOU MADE IT!!)
Pour in 2 teaspoons vanilla and stir to incorporate. It will bubble and sizzle.
Pour the rocket hot caramel mixture CAREFULLY into your prepared dish. Allow the caramel to sit on the counter and cool completely.
Once the caramel is cool, you can lift it out using the parchment paper and place it on a large cutting board. Using a pizza cutter or large knife, cut into strips, then cut those strips into small squares.
Prepare squares of wax paper for wrapping. Place a caramel on the bottom middle of the wax paper piece, then roll lengthwise. Twist the ends opposite directions (this allows you to just pull and the wrapper undoes itself).
Aren't they beautiful?
The best part about wrapping these babies is that you can eat any caramel that isn't cut to your liking. I'm terrible at getting them perfectly even; I know, sad.
I like to put them in cute tins like his one I bought at Target. They make the best gifts and will be received with joy and savored, every last one. I've heard of friends hiding them from their kiddos.
Christmas is a special time of year, so it deserves the most special of sweets. These soft caramels are the very best out there. Try them and I know you'll agree!
Recipe Source: Recipe adapted from a recipe at Mel's Kitchen Cafe