Friday, December 5, 2008

homemade Christmas caramels

My homemade Christmas caramels have been such a hit with my office this year that I thought that I'd pass along the idea and the recipe. These treats make a delicious, simple, inexpensive, and appropriate gift for co-workers, neighbors, or others and I find them a welcome relief from the typical holiday baked goods (both from the cook's perspective as I don't really bake and from the consumer's perspective because the holidays include way too many cookies, cakes, and pies). These caramels, while fairly quick and easy to make in the microwave, do take a bit of time to cut, wrap individually, and package as a gift (and please be forewarned that you will be tempted to consume handfuls of these delicacies while you make the packages; they're irresistible!). I included a copy of the recipe inside each package, which my colleagues seemed to appreciate.

Happy giving, and happy eating!

Homemade Christmas Caramels: I bet you can’t eat just one!

1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
1 cup sugar
1 cup white karo syrup
1 cup whipping cream
4 tablespoons vanilla
Optional: crushed pecans, walnuts, or other nuts to taste
wax paper
gift packaging materials of your choice

1. Melt butter in large, glass, microwave-safe bowl (2-3 quart or larger).
2. With a small hand mixer, blend in sugar, syrup, and ½ cup cream.
3. Cook on medium power in the microwave for 15 minutes.
4. Blend in the remaining cream, cook an additional 12 minutes in the microwave, and then test for desired consistency. Drop a tiny bit of the mixture into a glass of ice water and feel the mixture. If it forms into a firm ball, it’s ready. If the mixture still seems runny or mushy, continue to cook it in the microwave in two minute increments until you can easily form a ball in a glass of ice water. Mix in vanilla.
5. If you choose to use nuts, sprinkle the nuts onto the bottom of a greased 8x8 pan. Pour the mixture over the nuts.
6. Allow the mixture to sit on a flat surface to cool and harden for several hours.
7. Slice into very small squares and wrap individually with waxed paper. An electric knife makes the slicing step quick and easy!
8. If the caramels tend to be a little too soft or runny, you can keep them in the refrigerator to harden. If they come out too hard, well, you may need to just throw them out and start again. You don't want anyone to break a tooth! The caramels should be chewy to taste, but not runny or rock hard.

NOTE: plan to make more batches than you need! This mixture is rather easy to burn when it starts boiling in the microwave. Be very careful when you remove it from the microwave. The mixture is very hot and it bubbles up quickly and somewhat violently when you mix in additional ingredients.


Katie said...

So clever! You are organized! We just got your Christmas card yesterday, loved it!!!

Amy said...

Nice- I'm totally doing this! I never like getting anything for my co-workers, but this is easy. It seems appropriately inexpensive, but thoughtful. I'm so exited. Thanks for passing along the idea!