Thursday, December 10, 2009

Easter Caramels (by Kat)

I can't remember ever celebrating Christmas without Easter Caramels until my parents moved away from all the family to come to Washington State. The caramels sat on my grandma's counter in a pretty little cut-glass candy dish. Each piece of caramel was carefully wrapped in waxed paper, just like the Christmas presents under the tree.

My mom is one of eight kids, so plenty of aunts and uncles parked themselves on the bar stools lining the counter. The trick to getting the most caramels was to be sure to slip between different stools each time. That way, no one ever noticed how many times you came back. The other trick was to throw the little wrappers away in the far back bathroom, where no one would ever see the sticky little pile of waxed-paper squares.

I was cute, too, as well as the only child, and looking back, that may have played a more significant role than I realized at the time!

The recipe for the caramels came from my great great aunt. She shared it with many, but specifically passed it down to my great aunt, who in turn shared it with many, but specifically passed it down to my aunt. Who Wouldn't Share with Anybody!!!

So, after we moved north, I didn't get caramels. My mom called and asked for the recipe, but my aunt wouldn't let her have it. My mom called the rest of her siblings, but nobody had the recipe. It's not that my great aunt wouldn't share, as some remember getting the recipe from her, it's that nobody still had a copy. Except my aunt...

A few years later, I called my aunt and told her to cough it up! Actually, it was probably more like, "Um, I miss you. Um, I love you. Um, remember those caramels? Um, can you tell me how to make them? Um, I love you?"

A week later the recipe came in the mail. She sent specific instructions that this recipe was hers and mine alone.

Hmph. Screw that!

I've shared this recipe with everyone, and I've shared that it's a family favorite. I've shared it and seen happiness spread and grow. I want you to make these, and share them, and share the recipe if people want it.

And who knows. Maybe it will make someone so happy, they'll share their recipes in return. The world could do with far fewer bitter old aunts, don't you think?

Oh, and just so you know, when my own niece asked for the recipe, I went to the local stationery store and bought the loveliest recipe cards I could find, and a beautiful pen with matching ink. I carefully wrote out the recipe, and let my niece know that this was a special recipe for aunts and nieces--and whoever the hell they wanted to share it with!

Easter Caramels

In a large, heavy, non-stick-if-you-got-it, at least 4 quart pot combine
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt

Now add 1 cup of heavy cream.

Bring to a full boil while stirring near-constantly.
If you're using non-stick, you don't have to be as vigilant as you do with not-non-stick.
Now, slowly drizzle in 1 more cup of cream.

Using your favorite thermometer, keep a close eye on the temperature.
You want to get to 240 degrees F.
Not under, not over, but right on the money.

It's a bit hard to tell, but the candy is a light tan color, and when the bubbles pop,
they do it in a sort of sticky manner.
I think Pooh-bear would understand that, and I'll just have to hope that you do, too!
Now add 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and chopped nuts if you'd like.
I don't like, so I don't add.

After stirring the vanilla in very well, pour the mixture
into a well-buttered 8 inch square(ish) dish.

Let cool overnight, cut into squares, and wrap each individual square.

Easter Caramels
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
2 cups heavy cream, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2-3/4 cups chopped walnuts (optional)

Combine first four ingredients and one cup cream in a large saucepan.
Bring to a full boil, then slowly add second cup of cream.
Stir constantly until the temperature reads 240 degrees F on a thermometer or has reached the medium ball stage in a glass of ice water.
Remove from heat and add vanilla and nuts (if using).
Pour into a well-buttered 8 inch square pan.
Cool overnight, then cut into squares. Each square must be individually wrapped or you'll end up with a congealed cluster of caramel.
Remember that sharing is good and kind, and is the right thing to do!

1 comment:

  1. Well, at least there's also a lot of sweet, kind aunts in the world to balance things out.

    These look yummy. And I like your blue spatula.