For as long as I can remember it has been a tradition to make caramels and give them away as gifts to others during the holiday season. And when I say “caramels” I am talking multiple batches. We gave them to our family friends, teachers, friends at school, mailman, hair dresser… basically any person we came in contact with during the month of December. We’ve started using the caramel in other treats we share too, like See’s Polar Bear Paws!
My mom would make the caramel (often two batches at one time… she’s got skill!) with the assistance of a child when she noticed we were bored and our hands could go to good use stirring. No one minded standing over the that yummy caramel and smelling the buttery sweetness though… well, I guess I shouldn’t speak for my siblings, but I loved it! Mmmm! Now when I smell caramel I instantly think “Christmas!”
Later at night or the next day after the caramel cooled completely we would all gather at the table as a family and my mom would lay out pieces of perfectly ripped and cut wax paper (and ripping wax paper perfectly every time is really hard to do). She would then proceed to cut out the caramels out of the pan and place them on the wax paper. My brother and I made it kind of a race to see who could wrap the most caramels the fastest. Each caramel wrapped was then tossed into the gigantic yellow bowl that said “blockbuster” (are any of those still in business?). It was fun…until our wrists started to hurt– child labor! But really, I loved it and plan to enlist Carly once she doesn’t try to eat them all. She already loves these and since they are soft she has no trouble taking a bite and letting it melt in her mouth.
Once all the caramels were wrapped we then got out the cute holiday cellophane bags and filled them. Families got 20 caramels, really big families got 30, and individuals got 8 (with some exceptions… the more praise/obsession gets you more the next year). Some of my friends were lucky enough to get a family bag AND an individual bag.
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas with out these yummy caramels. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do and make them part of your holiday tradition!
Keep an eye out for yummy treats (like these gourmet caramel apples) using this caramel!
Homemade Christmas Caramels
- 2 cups white sugar
- ¾ cup dark corn syrup
- ¾ cup butter (cut into chunks)
- 2 cups whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Prepare a 9x9 inch or 11x7 inch baking pan by buttering generously or if you have parchment paper just spray lightly with cooking spray and line with parchment paper.
- Place sugar, corn syrup, butter, and 1 cup cream in a 4 quart pot and bring slowly to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon or heat resistant spatula.
- Once it comes to a boil, heat the remaining cup of cream in the microwave for 1-2 minutes until hot (make sure it's in a big enough bowl so it doesn't boil over in the microwave). Gradually add the cream in a slow stream to the pot while constantly stirring. You need to add it slow enough that the caramel never stops boiling (if it stops your caramel will become sugary/crystallized).
- Stir frequently as the mixture begins to thicken and then stir constantly as it starts to darken. Cook until it reaches 240-242 degrees F (I like mine at 242. It's still soft but holds it shape a little better). I usually just do the cold water test by spooning a little of the caramel into cold water, let it sit for a few seconds and then pull it out and if it can hold the shape of a ball then it's done. If not, keep cooking and repeat the test.
- Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour into prepared dish. (Do NOT completely scrape the sides of the pan when pouring the caramel. The caramel that has clung to the sides of the pan is firmer and will make your caramels have ribbons of firmer caramel. Just use a rubber spatula to gently push all the liquid caramel out.) Let the caramels cool completely overnight before cutting.
- Cut wax paper strips 5-6 inches long and then cut each strip into thirds to get pieces that are bout 4 inches wide. Cut caramels into squares and place each caramel in the center of a wax paper sheet. Roll up and twist the ends.
Recipe source: mom
Need more caramel in your life?