Thursday, December 12, 2013


Plain Caramels
There are few things in this world as simple but decadent as caramel. In my family Christmas means making candy, and what we make the most of is caramel. I can remember opening up the caramel tin and sneaking handfuls of the wax-paper wrapped goodies to eat all day long. Before I had even finished the last one in my pocket, I would be back at the tin again, fishing out the biggest pieces.

I actually have been using this recipe on my own for years, although I have never had a chance to see the original and I still have yet to find it in the cookbooks. My Mammaw (my Great Grandmother) was always the one that made Christmas candy, although her daughter, my Nana (my Grandmother) was the one who took on making caramels and fudge about 15 years ago. When my Mammaw died several years ago, I took on making several on the Christmas candies for the family. Even when we moved to the South, we still managed to get enough cold days each year to go through several quarts of heavy cream, dozens of pounds of sugar, and enough pecans to keep a squirrel fat through a long winter.

The Caramel recipe listed below is the one that I use. It will yield around 200 thumb sized pieces of caramels. I make them on a full sized Jelly Roll pan, but if you have a nice deep cookie sheet, that would also work, as would halving the recipe and using a 9x13 pan or fourth-ing the recipe and using an 8x8 pan. Never make these on a rainy day as it seems to tamper with the chemistry.

It helps if you have a few people to help you wrap the caramels. So get some folks together, make a few batches, and then wrap caramels until you can't feel your fingers :) Awhile back I got tired of cutting rolls and rolls of wax paper into squares and found six-inch wax paper squares online, mine are made by norpro and come in boxes of 250. (These are different from the usual burger patty sheets!) They are really nice to have, but you can get 4 wrappers per square foot of wax paper on a roll, and end up with about 300 pieces for about half the price of the pre-cut.

Finally, use actual butter to butter the pan. Seriously. You will regret using pam or some other oil as it will mess up the flavor of the caramels. I had a friend try to make these with pam once, and they tasted like an oil slick. Just use real butter, your tastebuds will rejoice and all will be right with the world.



3 cups of sugar
1 cup of brown sugar
3 cups of karo syrup
1 quart of heavy cream
1 pound of Pecans
A tablespoon or so of butter
An accurate food thermometer or a glass of ice water to test the syrup in

Butter your pan and then place nuts in bottom of pan. For a full batch, I recommend using a full sized Jelly Roll pan or large and deep cookie sheet. Add the sugar, brown sugar, karo syrup, and half of the cream to a large stock pot, bring this up to 232*F, that would be between thread and soft ball stage. When you reach 232*F, slowly stir in the remaining cream. Bring up to 242*F, or right before firm ball stage, and pour into pan. Let set in a cool place, cut, wrap, enjoy!

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