If you've ever tasted a homemade caramel before then you know what a treat they are! It takes some time and patience to make them...especially if you have a four year old 'helping' who just wants to talk and talk and ask you question after question while you're trying hard to concentrate so you don't burn it or forget to add the salt :) ...but if you can stick with it, it's so worth it in the end!
- Have all ingredients warm-heat in double boiler (You can warm it in the microwave as well in 30 second increments.)
- Put Karo syrup in large pan-bring to boil. Add sugar gradually (If sugar does not dissolve add 1/4 cup water.)
- Heat cream in double boiler. (Or you can microwave it at 30 second increments.)
- Cook sugar and Karo to heavy syrup (about 236 degrees, it depends on your altitude)
- Add cream slowly (very slowly-1 tsp. at a time)
- Stir constantly it will bubble up.
- When half of cream is left, add sweetened condensed milk to cream and heat that. Then add to syrup in same way.
- Cook to soft but firm ball about 230 degrees to 234 degrees. (use a candy thermometer)
- Add salt and vanilla and stir to keep from sticking.
- Pour 3/4 to 1 inch deep in a 9x13 buttered pan.
- Cut with knife or kitchen sheers.
- Refrigerate before cutting. (Don't refrigerate them too long though or they will be as hard as rocks. If they are too hard to cut let them sit at room temperature for awhile until they warm enough to cut.)
- If you have a heavy bottom pan, use it. If not, just make sure you stir the caramel constantly when you are cooking it. It's a continual process so set aside some uninterrupted time and have all of the ingredients on hand, measured, and ready to go.
- When it's time to check the caramel to see if it's reached the soft ball stage, drop a bit of caramel from a spoon into a small bowl of cold water. If you can roll it into a soft formed ball with your fingers and it holds it's shape, then it's ready.
- If the caramels are still too soft after they have been chilled, then you can put the caramel back in your pan, add 2-3 Tablespoons of water (so the sugar doesn't crystallize) and re-cook it. (Or just eat it with a spoon!)
- Even if the caramels are too hard at room temperature, you can put the caramel into a pan add 2-3 Tablespoons of water, and re-cook it.
I didn't have any dipping chocolate, so I melted dark chocolate chips in the microwave and then dipped my caramels in it. It's not the 'correct' way to do it, but for a quick treat, it worked okay and tasted good! If you want the chocolate to look good for more than a day you'll want to use real dipping chocolate.
For the correct way to dip chocolates click on the link below.
Printable Chocolate Box
(Works great for other Valentine Candy as well.)
I found a cute little free printable chocolate box at Microsoft.com that worked perfectly. To print it, click on the link then scroll down to where you see the subtitle Chocolate Boxes. Click on template to open or download it.
To add some color to the box without using a lot of printer ink:
Print the box template onto a heavy weight scrapbook paper or colored card stock, cut, fold, and glue.
- Print it onto white card stock.
- Staple a piece of scrapbook paper to the back side of the card stock on the outside edges and then cut on the lines.
- Bend it at the fold lines.
- With the patterned paper on top, glue the tabs and open edges of the two papers together.
- Fold into a box and glue.
I inserted a regular pink cupcake liner. You can also buy little chocolate papers. The box will hold four chocolates.
For very little money, but a bit of your time, you have a sweet little Valentine gift to share with those you love.
One last idea: These boxes are easy to make and might be fun for elementary kids to make (maybe at a class party). I would print it onto light pink or white card stock and then have them decorate it with stickers, foam shapes, or whatever. They could even put a little treat in it for their mom!
Today's Fabulous Find...Homemade Caramels and Printable Chocolate Box