Making candy during the holidays has certainly required a bit of patience and perseverance. However, my love for caramels has kept me trying, but the most important thing I have learned over the years of failed attempts…. there is no room in your kitchen for a cheap thermometer! Before you even buy the ingredients, buy a quality thermometer, preferably digital so you can accurately measure the temperature of your candy. Another important tip to consider, which honestly I only learned very recently, but, altitude matters. We live in Big Sky Country at about 5,000 feet. That is very different from when I made caramels in Montgomery, Alabama, at 240′. That would explain why my recipe has a pencil adjustment of about 8-10° since we returned to Montana. If you don’t make adjustments, you will likely overcook your candy at higher altitudes. A good rule of thumb is to reduce the cooking temperature by 2 degrees every 1,000 feet above sea level – unless of course it was written originally by someone living at the same altitude. For instance, my original recipe said ‘cook and stir until a thermometer reads 244,°’ and when we returned back to Montana, the first few batches were rock hard and boy, was I disappointed! Especially since they were perfect down south! Now, I have adjusted my recipe to 238° and we’re back to being just about perfect.
- 1 cup butter
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Line an 11 x 7 in. dish with foil; spray the foil with non-stick cooking spray or grease with 1 tsp. butter.
- In a large, heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup and 1 cup butter. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat slightly to medium-low; boil gently without stirring for 4 minutes.
- Remove from heat; gradually stir in milk. Cook and stir until a candy thermometer reads 236-244°, depending on where you live. (You want a higher temperature if you are at sea level, a lower temperature if you live at high altitudes. At 5,000', I boil to 238°.) Remove from the heat; stir in extracts. Immediately pour into the prepared pan. Let stand until firm, at least an hour or two.
- Using the foil, lift out the candy upside down onto a cutting board. Remove the foil. Using a sharp knife, cut the caramel into 1×3/4 in. pieces. Wrap candies individually in waxed or cellophane paper; twist ends.
I recently replaced 1 tsp of vanilla extract with maple extract. However, orange, apple cider, coffee, buttered rum, or any other flavor you like could be used as well. I used to cut wax paper into squares until I found an Etsy shop, Sweet CO1 in Minnesota where I could purchase 1,000 candy wrappers for less than $12. Not only are my candies prettier, it was way less hassle and all my wrappers are uniform in size. *Recipe adapted from TasteofHome.com, 2013
I hope you enjoy this wonderful tradition as much as my family has.
Copyright © 2020 Montana Mountain Maven / Tina R. Cusker. All rights reserved.