Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Willy Wonka I Am Not

I do not cook. Oh, I try and my family gets fed, but I am certainly not known for my cooking. I indulge in foodie blogs, and have grand ambitions sometimes... But my longtime favorite has always been baking. For an absolutely yummilicious blog check out Bakerella.

H adores homemade caramels. We visit my parents, and there is usually a basketful at the checkout of the local market. I purchase a couple, and usually find out that he has been making detours on his own to the market and nabbing some more on the sly...

Last weekend I made a first attempt at candy-making with the Better Homes and Gardens recipe for shortcut caramels. They taste quite yummy, but I have discovered that handling them isn't the easiest. Despite buttering everything (pan, foil, knife, my hands) I couldn't seem to get them to not stick to everything in sight. So - lots of good-tasting caramel, uh blops to eat. Any recommendations from any candy makers out there? I'd like them to look a little prettier, as well as be easier to deal with. Recipe is below:

1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 cup butter
1 16-ounce package (2-1/4 cups) packed brown sugar
2 cups half-and-half or light cream
1 cup light-colored corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla


1. Line an 8x8x2- or 9x9x2-inch baking pan with foil, extending foil over edges of pan. Butter the foil. If desired, sprinkle walnuts onto bottom of pan. Set pan aside.
2. In a heavy 3-quart saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add brown sugar, half-and-half or cream, and corn syrup; mix well. Cook and stir over medium-high heat till mixture boils. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Reduce heat to medium; continue boiling at a moderate, steady rate, stirring frequently, till the thermometer registers 248 degree F, firm-ball stage (45 to 60 minutes).
3. Remove saucepan from heat; remove thermometer. Stir in vanilla. Quickly pour the mixture into the prepared pan. When caramel mixture is firm, use foil to lift it out of pan. Use a buttered knife to cut into 1-inch squares. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Makes about 2 pounds (64 pieces).

Shortcut Caramels: Prepare as above, except substitute one 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk for the cream. This mixture will take less time to reach 248 degree F (about 15 to 20 minutes instead of 45 to 60 minutes).

1 comment:

ChefDruck said...

I bet they were delicious - even if they didn't look good. Thanks for entering the contest at my blog - I'm glad it led me to yours. I love your header - so nice to muck around in the dirt!