These treats are one of the reasons why the baby weight didn’t just “fall off” after I gave birth to my first son David.
My mom has made caramels in the fall and winter for as long as I can remember. A lot of my family recipes come from my dad’s side as his mom really loved to bake. This recipe, though, comes from my mom’s mom!
I’ve made these a few times and have already learned that they require a lot of attention and precision. The temperature they need to hit in order to set their hardness needs to be exact, and the time it takes to get there is also really important.
The caramels I made this weekend got to temperature a little faster than anticipated, and part of that is because my stove at the house is a little hotter than my last one. I need to figure out the right setting and keep practicing. A few essential tools to assist you in your caramel making are a great thermometer and possibly an automatic pot stirrer! This recipe requires about 30 minutes of constant stirring, so if you aren’t able to do that I’d definitely check out the pot stirrer. If you are able to sit near your stove and stir, use a wooden or silicone spoon to stir.
yields: about 30 caramels // time: approx. 45 minutes, approx. 30 minutes required stirring
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)
1/2 pound butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
In a medium sauce pan on low heat, melt butter. Add sugar, corn syrup, and sweetened condensed milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat then turn the heat down a bit to maintain a simmer. Attach thermometer to the side of the saucepan. Stir constantly for about 30 minutes until caramels reach 248* degrees. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour into a heavily buttered pan (11×7) and let cool. Cut into squares and wrap in wax paper**.
*I’ve made caramels twice this year (2020) and found that a softer, more chewy caramel that also holds its shape well is when its cooked to 247 degrees. So, if you are running into your caramels being too firm, try bumping down 1 degree. I know that may not seem like it matters but chemistry doesn’t lie.