12.21.2011

soft caramels

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Here is a secret about me: I do not love chocolate.
*gasp*

If I'm in the mood, I like it, and I will devour it...
But typically I choose chewy candy, caramels  or salt snacks over chocolate.

In High School my best friend's family made the best caramels in the world. I loved going to her house and eating till my stomach hurt. I loved getting the "neighborhood gifts" from them and taking the stash to my room. I STILL love going home over christmas and hoping the Walkers gave us a neighborhood gift so I can eat their caramels.

They make reg, cinnamon and licorice caramels. all of them to die for.
I however- do not have enough time or energy to make ALL of them. (I have made them all) so I just make regular. but I will provide you with the recipe so you can. It's not the cooking that is hard- its the rolling. holy rolling. Maybe when I have a few hand (older kids) I will make them all and we will have family night watching a movie and rolling caramels.
perfect.

READ the TIPS below BEFORE you make the caramels....

Soft Caramels
Ingredients
candy thermometer
wax or parchment paper
1 can sweet condensed milk
2 C sugar
1 cup butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup white Karo Syrup
Instructions
Cook and stir constantly. (CONSTANTLY) cook in heavy pan until it reaches 240 degrees.
Take off stove and add...
for licorice caramel: 3/4 t anise oil and 3/4 t black food coloring
for cinnamon caramel: 1t cinnamon oil 3/4 t red food coloring (make sure it is no taste)
pour into a 9x13 buttered pan. cool completely before cutting.
TIPS:
Make sure you stir caramels with either a wooden spoon or a spatula that can stand high temps. like papered chef.
Try not to splash on the sides because when you are stirring don't scrape the sides back in there, scrape  only the bottom of the pan. If you bring the sugar crystals from the sides of the pan back into your candy it will sugar it and be all crunchy instead of smooth when it is all done.
Put your candy thermometer into the candy after it has boiled for a bit and started to change colors don't drag it around because scraping the metal to metal together can also sugar your candy. ALSO once you put the thermometer in you have to keep it in until it is done, don't take it out and put it back in unless you clean it.
Keep the heat on a med heat and if you start seeing little brown specks in your candy take it off the heat mediately and turn it down. that is the candy scorching.


(this is stirring before it has started to change color)

cooling in the pan

cut small squares. a little goes a long way.




Rolling the candy:
I have used both wax and parchment paper. either works. Wax paper is nice when you have the three different caramels because you see the caramels through the paper, whereas the parchment paper is white and caramels are only slightly visible.

I cut a bunch of 3-4 inch strips from the paper roll, then cut the strips into thirds.





Its a nice addition to treat plates for neighbors




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78 comments:

  1. Hi
    I would really like to try this recipe. But I have two problems...I don't have candy thermometer and you can't buy karo syrup in my country. With what can I substitute karo syrup? And can I do this even if I don't have candy thermometer?
    I would really like to make these for christmas and halloween.

    Have a nice day,
    Tamara

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    Replies
    1. I think (but I could be wrong) that Karo Syrup is the same as corn syrup/glucose syrup (I can't buy it either)...so yeah, correct me if I'm wrong. And I don't know if it's possible to make it without a thermometer, when you're making candy it generally has to be fairly precise; but sugar thermometers are pretty cheap - you can buy good ones for under $20, I've found. Good luck! :)

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    2. You can make soft candies without a candy thermometer. Here is the trick. You need a glass of very cold water. Using a clean spoon every time you check, dip a tiny bit of the candy out and drop one or two drops into the super cold water. For soft ball stage(for soft candies) you will be looking for a small bead to form as the candy drops into the water. When the candy hits the bottom of the glass it should flatten out, but remain together. It will not disperse. If it disperses cook for a minute and check again. Keep doing so till you get the correct consistency. If it beads and doesn't flatten out (remains in a ball) you over cooked it into the hard ball stage. Which may taste like a werthers original. lol Or just a scorched mess. HTH I don't own a candy thermometer and this is how I always cook my candies. Delicious! It may take some practice.

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    3. I agree with Jaime. We have a recipe very similar to this that has been passed down the family and we always tested 'doneness' with a cold cup of water as we had no thermometer. Can I also suggest Golden Syrup to Makenzie. This is what we use in place of the Karo Syrup. I must say that we never get around to rolling it. It is kept in the tin in the fridge and we cut off a square when we get the urge...it's hard to stop at one though. Depending on heat, we could stir this stuff for a couple of hours - always in a figure 8. Certainly worth making!

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    4. As I discovered after moving from Canada to Australia, "corn syrup" is called "golden syrup" in the UK and Australia. :)

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    5. My candy thermometer recently broke, luckily I found this microwave recipe that takes 6 minutes and it is TO DIE FOR. http://hotcookinmama1.blogspot.com/2012/10/6-minute-caramels.html If you don't like that idea, dropping the caramel into water is a great tactic!

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  2. yes,Corn syrup or Glucose syrup is the same thing as Karo. I just discovered this Because I moved from the States to Canada and they don't have Karo here.. so I have been using the corn syrup which works perfect. You could try making the caramel without a thermometer but it can burn pretty fast and would be easier for you to buy a cheap one as mentioned before. Hope it goes ok for you. :)

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    Replies
    1. OH thats great! I wondered what to use instead I have the glucose syrup I have to try to make these!!! thank you

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  3. Could you add sea salt to the top of these and have a salted carmel?

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  4. April- that sounds divine! I would add the sea salt when it is warm....if it has cooled completely you might have to press them in some. if you put salt on top when it is piping hot the salt might dissolve.

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  5. Do you think that honey could be substituted for the Karo? We have our own hive and I really like to use honey when we can... Or maybe for aprt of the sugar?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Chelsea, Once I was making salt water taffy and had to substitute honey and it worked...so you should give it a try. The candy I made had a Bit-o-honey flavor....Imagine that with a more caramel flavor....yum!

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  6. This looks like a wonderful recipe! I'm so excited for Christmas coming up and am definitely starting out my baking/candy making list early :)

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  7. These look amazing! Two questions: Can you sub condensed goats milk for the dairy? (my son is allergic) Also, the heavy pan, what kind exactly is that? I would love to try the recipe, but am nervous about messing it up with the wrong pan! Thanks :-)

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    Replies
    1. a heavy pan (the more expensive the heavier they are) just heats more evenly... which means less likelyhood of you burning your caramels. If you're going to use a pot that's on the cheaper side, keep the temp on the lower side. It'll take longer, but you will have less likelyhood of burning the sugar. You do have to use butter so can your son have butter? Condensed goats milk should work... it just may not taste the same.

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  8. Charlie and Jessica- I am not exactly sure on the goats milk. Is the goats milk the equivalent of sweetened condense milk or evaporated milk? Evaporated milk is a lot thinner, and not sweet like sweetened condense milk. So if the goats is thick and gloppy and sweetened then it would probably work?! if it is liquidly like reg milk it isn't like sweetened condense milk.
    Pan, use what you have. heavier and thicker is better. Just make sure, if you use a non-stick pan, that it allows you to go up to that high temperature.
    -OhSoDelicioso

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    Replies
    1. I found this recipe a while back to make your own condensed milk. I don't remember where it came from, and I am not trying to claim it as my own. I just thought it might be helpful to some of you who cannot find evaporated milk where you live.

      Sweetened Condensed Milk

      This recipe is the equivalent of one can of store bought condensed milk.

      3/4 cup powdered milk
      3/4 cup sugar
      1/2 cup hot water

      Directions:
      Ccombine the powdered milk and the sugar in a bowl. Put hot water into blendera nd turn it on. While blender is running, add in the powdered milk with sugar mix. Blend until smooth.

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  9. I'm wondering if I dip quickly, could this be used for caramel apples? Any idea how long it takes to set?

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    Replies
    1. take it off the heat to dip the apples, it'll take a while to set, so you have time.

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  10. A suggestion the pan---Instead of buttering the pan, place wax paper inside to lift it out once it is cool. Then use a thin wire to cut the pieces!

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  11. do they have to be refrigerated? How long will they keep?

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  12. This looks just too beautiful to eat. I don't know why but I seem to be to dumb to mak caramel. It always, always gets burned...

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    Replies
    1. Quinn- I understand! I have burnt them a couple of times, mostly because I was impatient. Try again! It takes a looooong time for it to boil and turn the desired caramely color. So just be patient, turn the heat down if you start to see specks and keep stirring. never stop stirring. You can do it! I have faith in you :)

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    2. Dear Desarae,

      Thank you for this recipe, I love carmel!

      I have reread the recipe 3 times to make sure i didn't just miss the rolling instructions but did not find any. I see you said, Rolling the Candy: but never gave any instructions for rolling the candy. It gave info for cutting the carmel and how big of squares to cut for for carmels but that is all. Could you please elaborate on how to and or how long the carmels should be rolled. Thank you for sharing your recipe. Greatly appreciated.
      Dawn

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    3. Dawn,

      I think she meant rolling the caramel into the wrappers.

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  13. If you want to use for caramel apples, you can coat the apples before the caramel completely cools leaving it in the pan you cooked it in. You can put the pan in a sink with cold water in it, couple inches deep to cool quicker. Don't get water in the pan.

    Goats milk is not the same as condensed milk. Condensed milk has been cooked down to condense. You might be able to google a recipe for making condensed milk from goats milk. Substituting goats milk as is will not work as the recipe is written.

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  14. how would thi do with making turtles?

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  15. You say that a candy thermometer is key to making this, but how hot should it be? I can find no mention of this.

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    Replies
    1. Froken- the temperature they need to reach is 240 degrees. At the beginning of the instructions it does say this, but I understand how that may be confusing.

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  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  17. How should they be cooled? To room temperature by leaving them out or put in the fridge??

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  18. Perfect recipe for xmas candy and gifts, have to definitely try this. One question though: is the temperature in Farenheits or Celsius? Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. that would be Farenheit. Just a little beyond boiling point. Into the 300's is hard ball stage which would be more like worthers candies (if you try taking them into hard candies, they have to be cut while slightly cooled or you'll never get a knife through them :) )

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  19. Just made this for some Boo baskets I'm make. These are yummy and the perfect candy. I'm so going to be making this recipe again. Haven't rolled them yet but I'm sure that will add the right amount of presentation to these lovely caramels. Thank you for posting!

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  20. Is the butter salted or unsalted?

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  21. This is almost the same recipe as one I got from my MIL, but hers is done in the microwave--no mention of candy thermometer! I think the original recipe was using a 700 watt microwave for 10 minutes--I played with the time on my 1250 watt microwave and set it at 60% for about 9 minutes. Too long, and they get a bit chewier; too short, and they need to be refrigerated. I also use the recipe to dip pretzels in (and then dip in chocolate), am sure you could dip apples if you want to....

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  22. For traditional caramels, do I just not add any of the licorice or cinnamon additions?

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  23. I started making home-made candy, including caramel, divinity and fudge, when I was about 9 or 10. My candy almost always turned out perfectly! The biggest secrets to making this type of candy is:
    1. Use a very heavy pot. A thin pot allows too much heat in one spot and your candy will burn. We had a very thick, old canning pot that I used to use.
    2. Use a medium-low to low heat and once it really starts boiling, don't stop stirring the bottom... just plan on standing there and stirring, and turn heat down a bit... if the heat is too high, it will burn....quickly!
    3. Don't ever scrape the sides (any single sugar crystal will set off a chain reaction and it will end up separating with damp, milky patches and crunchy bits, yuck, instead of creamy, chewy candy).
    4. Don't make this type of cooked candy in rainy or humid weather. If you live in the Southern US, or any other place that has HIGH HUMIDITY at times, plan on making this type of candy on dryer days. It will almost never set right if it's rainy or too damp!
    Thank you for sharing this super easy caramel recipe! :)

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  24. I love this recipe! So easy and delicious. Sometimes I make it as stated and sometime I add a teaspoon of vanilla after taking it off the stove. Thanks for such a great and versatile recipe!

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  25. I've made this recipe and kept it hot in my small crock pot and served it at parties with sliced apples for dipping.

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  26. Can I skip the cinnamon or anise flavor, and would it taste like regular caramels?

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    Replies
    1. yes! just leave those out for the traditional caramels :)

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  27. approximately how long does it take when stirring?

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    Replies
    1. I'd say it took about 15 minutes of stirring. I got a candy thermometer at Walmart for about 4-5 dollars and that helps a lot.

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  28. I've been making flavored caramels for 12 years now, almost every Christmas. Everyone loves them. For plain caramels I always put a generous teaspoon of vanilla extract.
    Also, I've noticed on a medium flame/coil (for electric users) Caramels cook for about 1/2 an hour- 45 min. They are amazing and look just like the pictured shown here! :) hope this helps.
    I haven't been brave enough yet to substitute heavy whip cream for the condensed milk. but I would like to try one day.

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  29. Thank you so much for sharing! I can't wait to try it!

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  30. This is awesome!! Came out perfect!!

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  31. My husband loves the chocolate caramels. Is there any way I can use this recipe and just add chocolate to it? Could I use semisweet squares?

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    Replies
    1. Maybe you could sprinkle in the when it is done cooking. Some ideas might be to layer the bottom of the pan with semisweet chocolate chips and when you pour the caramel over it will melt them. Or cover/dip them in melted chocolate.

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  32. I'm really interested in making this recipe, but what does the 'C' stand for in "2 C Sugar"? Does it mean to cups of sugar? :)

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  33. Hello!
    Thanks for the recipe, I love caramlels and want to try.
    I like to know what means the "C" by the sugar measure.
    Thanks a lot.
    Shirley

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    Replies
    1. Sorry, I didn't read before that someone the same asked.: )
      Shirley

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  34. Going to be making this to add to my homemade Christmas gifts!! I am going to assume that if one didn't want to do the rolling, you could just wrap them with them being squares. The rolling makes it nice but I need to save time somewhere! :)

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  35. How many ounces in the can of sweetened condensed milk/ I'm thinking of making these for Christmas this year! My best friend's grandma made the BEST caramels, and I'm craving them now!

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  36. I just made these caramels and they are delicious however, I waited until exactly 240 degrees and immediately took the caramels off the heat and poured them into my pan but they are rock hard!! Any ideas as to why??

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    Replies
    1. Alyssa! BOO!!! i'm sorry they turned out hard. so I have been thinking about this all morning. My best idea is that your thermometer is not giving you the accurate temperature. They were cooked too long, got too hot. You could make them again and as soon as your caramel starts turning the golden caramel color starting using the soft ball test. Take a cold glass of water and drop in a drop of caramel. you can then pull it out and mush it around...if its too mushy let it cook a little longer, and keep doing it till its a nice firm soft :)
      You caramel can also turn crunchy if you scrape the sides or put take the spoon and thermometer in and out without cleaning it off. but i think that is more of a crunch and not a hard like you are talking about. If I were you I'd either make them again using the thermometer and the cup of water (so you can cross check), or just get a new thermometer. and maybe turn the heat down.

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    2. Mine are delicious as well but came out rock hard like Werther's original candies. I used a candy thermometer (which I use all the time to make homemade marshmallows without any problems). I had to reheat the sheet of caramels in my microwave just to be able to get my knife through them. :( But again, the flavor is great...just not chewy in the slightest.

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    3. the only reason that caramels would be rock hard is because the temperature got to high. It doesn't really matter what caramel recipe you would use if they are hard they got too hot. Maybe the thermometer was not submerged fully in the caramels, or did you take the thermometer out and put it back in a few times?
      I'm not an expert but I also wonder if the caramels were cooked to fast instead of on med heat?

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  37. I just made the carmamel and mine wasn't as dark in color, was I suppose to use brown sugar? Or did I do something wrong? Thanks

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  38. Thanks for the recipe. My daughter and I are planning to make these together. I was wondering how long they usually keep for, and the best way to store them (refrigerated vs. room temperature)?

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    Replies
    1. Sorry! This is so late, but I think I should still reply incase anyone else is wondering! I have kept them refrigerated for 2 weeks and they were great.

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  39. these look yum, guess you could add a whole range of flavours and then coat them in chocolate.

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  40. If you want to save a little time, you can put the candy in the mini cupcake liners. I do this with my molded chocolates and fudge that I give away. You can find them with patterns to go with the holidays if you want, which makes them pretty festive. Thanks for sharing the tips as well as the recipe!

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  41. forr Carmel wrappers go to lynnscakeandcandy.com. only place I have seen online that has then.

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    Replies
    1. correction, for and them... love auto correct on a cell phone.

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  42. When pouring caramel onto sheet, do I NOT scrape the pan? You said not to touch edges while cooking.

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    Replies
    1. Correct, just pour the caramel without scraping. It's so hard to do right? We are used to using are spatulas and scraping every last drop!

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  43. when i did it they did not turn the caramel color...they turned darker but they don't look right.

    will they turn darker as they cool?

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    Replies
    1. No, they wont turn darker as the cool, The longer the cook the darker the turn and the more harder they will also be. Are they more of a blonde color? Or a light tan?

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    2. I'm also curious, what was your method of measuring the temperature? I wonder if somehow the candy thermometer was touching the pan and so it was reading hotter than what the actual temperature of the caramel sauce was? was the texture pretty soft? or just right?

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  44. I just made these and they taste delicious. My thermometer read 240 so I took it off but noticed after i poured that it wasn't very dark and its not getting hard enough? Do you think I could heat it all back up in the pan and let it get darker then let it cool again?

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  45. Me too! First time ever trying any kind of candy so I was really afraid of over cooking. No candy thermometer, used the water drop method but again as a first timer I was very unsure what I was looking for. Pretty sure they are not done enough. Has anyone ever tried saving an under-cooked batch and reheating?

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