Salted Caramel

My sister gives me caramel every year for Christmas.  She’s been doing this for many years, and my kids are always asking, when’s the caramel coming? as we get closer to the 25th.

This year, before the caramel came, another one of my sisters, let’s call her Carol, (I have three, and a brother) sent me some salted caramels that she made.

Those went by in a flash. There’s something about salt and caramel that is absolutely addicting.  So don’t read any further than this if you’re getting warning signs about your willpower . . .

I always just say I’m making them for the kids, and then I sample a few, and maybe a few more . . .

My sister who makes the caramel, let’s just call her Deb, said I could give you the recipe she uses so here it is — this batch makes about 4 pounds of caramel — I suggest halving it:

1 pound of butter

1 bottle (4 cups) of corn syrup

4 cups of brown sugar (about 2 pounds)

2 cans of sweetened condensed milk

Stir continuously the above over medium heat until a candy thermometer reads 240 degrees.  That’s at sea level, so adjust your thermometer by calibrating it since not all thermometers register properly, and you need to take into account your altitude — see below:

TO CALIBRATE A THERMOMETER:

1. When a pot of pure water is boiling at a full boil, take the temperature with your thermometer.

2.  Give it several minutes to register completely, unless it’s an instant read thermometer.

3.  Now set up a ratio (this is only because I’ve recently been teaching middle school math . . .

your water temp = your caramel temp

212 F                            240 F

How to solve this equation?   You cross multiply your water temp by 240 F and divide by 212 F (which is supposed to be the boiling temp of water at sea level, and what the 240 F is based on) to get the temp you should cook the caramel to.

Maybe this is simpler —  example:    if my water boils at 208 F, then I multiply 240 x 208.  Then I divide by 212. I get 235 F for the temp my thermometer should read when the caramel is done.

If you want your caramel a little harder, you’ll cook it a few degrees more, if softer, a few degrees less.

Back to our recipe —

Once your caramel hits 240 F or your adjusted temp, turn off the heat, and stir in 1 teaspoon of sea salt and 2 teaspoons of vanilla. Then, pour all into a greased pan or a pan lined with parchment paper.

Once the caramel has cooled enough to cut it, cut it into small squares. I might use a lightly greased knife if it sticks to the knife, or refrigerate it for a while.  Also, shape it now if necessary.

Then, prepare chocolate for dipping, using about 1 cup of chocolate chips or chopped chocolate with 1 teaspoon of vegetable shortening, melting in microwave for 60 seconds, stirring, and remelting at 30 second intervals and stirring until it’s melted enough to coat the caramels.  You can also use a double boiler to melt the chocolate.

Drop in a cooled caramel piece.

Cover completely by turning the piece around with a fork or chocolate tool, tap fork against container to remove excess chocolate and then set on parchment paper, plastic wrap or foil until cool.

You can decorate these with a sprinkle of sea salt when the chocolate has started to set, but is not completely cooled (if too soft, the sea salt will be absorbed by the chocolate. if too hard it will brush right off).

Enjoy!  Thanks Deb and Carol!

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