Barry's Christmas Caramels

     One December Barry came home from Solomon with a recipe for caramels. Despite the fact that he had never made any type of candy before, he was determined to give them a try.
     That was the year that Solomon High School FACS students were making candy and brought caramel samples to Barry’s Art room. Didn’t take long for him to look up Ellen Haslouer and talk her into sharing the recipe. He’s been making them ever since . . . hence the name “Barry’s Caramels.”
     Most caramels begin with heavy cream but this recipe calls for half-and-half. No matter what the ingredients, PATIENCE is required when making caramels and, a candy thermometer!

Barry’s Caramels    Makes 64 pieces / about 2 pounds
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
2 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

1.  Line an 8”x8”x2” baking pan with foil, extending foil over edges of pan.  Butter the foil. 
2.  In a heavy 3-quart saucepan melt the 1 cup butter over low heat. Add the brown sugar, half-and-half, and corn syrup; mix well. Cook over medium-high heat to boiling, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon to dissolve sugar. This should take 6 to 8 minutes. Avoid splashing the mixture on side of pan. Carefully clip candy thermometer to side of pan.
3.  Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until candy thermometer registers 248°, firm-ball stage.  Mixture should boil at moderate, steady rate over entire surface. Reaching firm-ball stage should take 45 to 55 minutes.
Barry is using a conventional and a digital thermometer to check the temperature.
4.  Remove saucepan from heat; remove candy thermometer from saucepan. Immediately stir in vanilla. Quickly pour the caramel mixture into the prepared pan. 

5.  When caramel is firm, use foil to lift it out of pan. Use a buttered knife to cut candy into 1” squares. Wrap each piece in a square of waxed paper.

Candy Stages
Many recipes call for the candy to be cooked to soft ball, hard ball, firm ball, soft crack, hard crack, or thread stage. These terms describe the consistency of a small amount of cooked syrup when it is dropped into cold water. 
To obtain consistent results when making candy, use a candy thermometer. And, to convert vintage recipes, use the chart that follows.
230°F to 234°F
Soft ball
234°F to 240°F
Firm ball
242°F to 248°F
Hard ball
250°F to 268°F
Soft crack
270°F to 290°F
Hard crack
300°F to 310°F

All About Candy Thermometers  . . .
Using  a Candy Thermometer
Generally, a candy thermometer is clipped to the side of the pan after the sugar has been dissolved or the ingredients are incorporated.  Make sure the bulb of the thermometer does not rest on the bottom of the pan or the reading will be higher than that of the candy solution. 

Calibrating a Candy Thermometer
Before you start making candy, calibrate your candy thermometer.  To do this:  Immerse the thermometer in a pan of water, and bring the water to a boil (do not immerse the thermometer into already boiling water as this can cause the thermometer to break).  The temperature should read 212° F -- that is the temperature at which water boils;  if it does not, you will need to adjust  the reading to reflect this. For example, if your thermometer reads 215° F. in boiling water, and the recipe requires that you cook the candy to 250° F, you will need to cook the mixture to 253° F.

1 comment:

  1. I have always had the hardest time with candy thermometers, so this year I have made caramels several times this month, just using the 'soft ball' test in cold water. Has worked for me every time...just drop some of the 'sauce' into cold water and when it forms a soft ball between your fingers, it's ready. This sounds like a fabulous recipe...the brown sugar would make them oh so yummy.