23 December 2008
Glorious Skittle Skat Roarious Caramels
My sister and I had been waiting all month for a nice clear day on which to make our annual batch of caramel. I went to her house because she has a nice heavy-duty pan, which is very helpful for candy making. In five to seven weeks, though, I will possess my very own enameled cast iron dutch oven that will also be perfect for candy making. I found the Lodge brand version on Amazon for $49.99. That's $250.00 below the Le Creuset, thank you very much. And the one I ordered qualified for free super saver shipping. Am I feeling smug? Oh yes, I am feeling very smug. But I have not come here today to crow about my forthcoming pan. I have come to share the recipe of to-die-for caramels. So without further ado:
1 cup butter
16 oz (2-1/4 cups) packed brown sugar
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup light colored corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1. Butter or foil and butter an 8x8 or 9x9 pan. If you want you can sprinkle nuts over the foil at this point, but I never do. I wouldn't want to spoil the gloriousness of the caramel with mere nuts. Also, they give Alex cankers.
2. In a 3 quart heavy saucepan melt butter. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the vanilla.
3. Over medium high heat, bring the rest of the ingredients to a rolling boil and cook until it reaches the soft ball stage. This usually involves 12 to 15 minutes of rolling boil for me. I don't recommend using a candy thermometer, because I am at high altitude, and if I cooked it to the temperature in my EasternUScentriclowaltitude book the caramel would be hard as a rock, and not so Glorious Skittle Skat Roarious.
4. Pour caramel into prepared pan. Do not scrape the sides of the pan while pouring. If you scrape the sides, the sugar crystalizes and you will have something closer to penuche. (Vleck.) Also, you will have nothing to spoon out and lick while your caramel cools. I scraped the pan this batch, and the picture above is the spot in the middle of my caramel that came out sugary rather than smooth and delicious. The smooth, enticing side pieces were unsullied by scrapage. So let that be a lesson to you.
5. After allowing candy to cool, achieve caramel induced nirvana-like stupor by eating it until your universe is in balance.
A few superstitions, some of which I know are not just superstitions:
* Don't make caramel on a cloudy day. Humidity does something very bad to caramels. That rule applies to most candies, especially divinity.
*Use a heavy duty pan, or the caramel is more prone to scorching.
*Don't make caramel on a cloudy day.
*You can use 2 cups half and half or light cream instead of the sweetened condensed milk, but it will probably cause you to have varicose veins from standing stirring for one to two hours.
*When cutting into tiny squares, use a meat cleaver. The height is helpful and the cleaving is a therapeutic power trip as well.
*Let me see—it seems like there was one more. Oh yes. Don't make caramel on a cloudy day.