Homemade Caramels

I’m a baker. I’m good with an oven and combinations of sugar, flour and butter.

You may not remember, but the purpose of this blog was to challenge myself in trying new recipes more regularly. So far, I think I’ve done a pretty amazing job at that. I’ve made countless different types of cupcakes and cookies. I’ve made things I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about, Chocolate Espresso French Macaroons, ah hem. Along the way I have found recipes that I have loved and hated, but I generally always had a finished product that resembled what the recipe described – until I tried to make candy.

I attempted making caramels around the same time last year and it would never turn out as it should.  I would be left with a puddle of delicious caramel sauce, which was still eaten of course, but it was not the form of sugar that I was looking for.

I ended up going with it and making caramel sauce as little presents for some relatives back in Minnesota and some lucky friends, but in the back of my head I couldn’t help but feel a little defeated by this silly caramel recipe! I mean really, it’s just boiling sugar and water, what could I possibly be doing so wrong?

After giving myself a good six month break from the candy making idea, I revisited the stove with a brand new candy thermometer, a new recipe, and a positive attitude.

So I am here happily reporting my success in making caramels, in little chewy candyform.

Step 1: Stir together water, sugar and corn syrup with heat resistant spatula

Step 2: Boil sugar mixture. Don’t stir with any utensils! Just let it do it’s thing! Step 3: Carefully pour cream into sugar and stir. It will bubble up like crazy, don’t worry!

Step 4: Let it boil until the mixture comes to the soft ball stage, or about 247 degrees F.

Step 5: Immediately pour into prepared pan and let it set! After about 2 hours of setting, you’ll be able to cut the caramels up into squares and then wrap them up in wax paper.

In the end, this really was not all that difficult to make. I think it may have been an issue with my candy thermometer, or maybe I just wasn’t “ready” for candy making. Whatever the reason was, I’m confident in that you will be able to make this recipe just as easily as I did.

Enjoy!

This entry was posted in candy.

Salted Chocolate Caramel Shortbread Bars

Hi! Remember me? I’m sorry for being MIA the past few weeks but lots of exciting new things have been happening! Well, maybe not lots but it feels like lots!

This fall, yours truly, will be attending UCLA to finish up my environmental studies/geography degree!

Every day since I received the lovely news, I wake up and think to myself “hey remember that time you got into UCLA?” and then I smile REALLY big. You’ll even find me smiling at really awkward times. I’m just…happy. So I have been off smiling around town. I know that doesn’t really seem like an excuse for being so absent…but it’s true.

So stay tuned, Thursday Night Baking is moving to Westwood! Woohoo!

I also went to Chicago to visit my Granny with my Mom! We did some site seeing, ate food, took pictures – it was a lovely mini vacation, despite the 40 degrees and raining weather.

The pretty Jellyfish at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.

So in honor of my exciting news, I made you guys something super good. This recipe has been bookmarked and drooled over for many months and now that I’ve made it I can’t believe I waited so long!

My oh my, these bars are little bites of sugary goodness! The buttery shortbread can stand proudly on its own, but wow add the gooey caramel, chocolate coating and oh of course the fleur de sel and this will leave you with a huge smile on your face.

Oh fleur de sel, you steal my heart. I’m having a hard time figuring out what doesn’t taste good with fleur de sel on top.

This recipe makes an entire 9×13 inch pan which means lots of goodies to share with friends! And trust me, this is an impressive recipe that you’ll want to show off to your friends.

Enjoy,

Madeline

#64 Caramel & Chocolate Dipped Pretzel Rods

Sometimes I’m just not in the mood to get out all of the ingredients out of the pantry and plug in the mixer. Sometimes I am out of necessary ingredients such as sugar/flour/butter and I just really dont want to go to the store. Sometimes I just want something sweet, salty and crunchy that doesn’t require baking, cooling, and frosting.

Alright, so sometimes I’m just really lazy, but the laziness doesn’t overpower my desire for sweets.

This quick dessert is also really great for people who may not have access to an oven or fancy baking equipment. It takes practically no time to do, and it can be made all just using a microwave! For my version, I used the stove to melt down the caramel and chocolate just because I can control the heat better on the stove than in the microwave.

The most traditional way to make these is just dipping them in caramel and then chocolate and calling it a day. Isn’t that boring though? So here are some ways to make it more exciting.

  • Melt down some white chocolate chips in the microwave. First for 1 minute, stir, then 30 second increments until melted. Spoon into a plastic sandwich bag and cut off a small piece of the corner of the bag.
  • Crumble up your favorite candy bar, I used Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. After you dip the pretzels into the chocolate, press the crumbled up candy into it.
  • Sprinkles are always fun too. 🙂

If you leave about 2 inches at the bottom uncovered, it makes a nice little handle to hold on to without making your hands a mess covered in chocolate. At first when you bite into this it’s chewy and chocolatey, and then the salt from the pretzels sneaks up on you and makes it perfect. It is kind of like you’re own home made candy bar!

Enjoy!

Madeline

#57 Homemade Caramel Sauce

I first stumbled upon caramel sauce when I failed an attempt at salted caramels a few months back. The caramels never ended up setting up, granted it was my first time using a candy thermometer, and I ended up with this pool of caramel. At first I was bummed that my caramels didn’t turn out, but quickly realized that this caramel soup that remained was amazing! Into a mason jar it went and ended up on ice cream, pies, cookies, in coffee, or just on a spoon, hehe.

I wanted to make something for my family back in Minnesota for Christmas but wasn’t sure what to make that would travel well and also appease a bunch of different people’s tastes. Everyone loves ice cream, so this caramel sauce was the perfect thing! I put it in half pint sized mason jars, glued some ribbon onto the rim of the lid, and made my own label for the top. Seriously, these turned out way cuter than I expected 🙂

The one thing about making candy that makes me so annoyed is that the caramel is SO HOT that you can’t really test it (unless you drop some into some water). I’m all about tasting along the way, otherwise you might make this huge batch of cookies and find out that they’re disgusting because you forgot the sugar (this happened…).

For this recipe, I started out using the candy thermometer, but found after making 3 batches that I didn’t really need it to make a good caramel sauce. You let it brown until it gets to an amber color, and then add in the cream. Taking the candy thermometer out of the equation makes the process seem a lot less intimidating.

So if you’re scrambling last minute for a gift for a holiday party that you’re going to, this is an easy fix! After you make it you can put it in the fridge and go get ready for the party. By the time you’re done it will be cooled enough that you wont burn your hand.

Grab a spoon and dig in!

Tips:

1. Use a large pan! That way when the caramel bubbles up when you add the liquid it doesnt boil up too high to the point where it might cause a mess.

2. Stir with a silicon spatula that can handle serious heat!

3. Understand that this sugar is 300+ degrees! Be careful!

4. Clean up: When you’re done, put the spatula back in the pot and add a few cups of water. Put the pot back on the stove and bring it to a boil. This will boil away all of the hard caramel thats a nightmare to clean on its own.

Enjoy!

Madeline

#56 English Toffee [Homemade Holiday Gift]

I love this time of the year. All of the wreaths, the little gingerbread men, and nutcrackers – I love it all. Christmas decorations just make the house look complete to me. Whenever it hits the new year, and the decorations get put back into their sad little boxes, the house just looks so cold and empty.

On the left is my baker nutcracker, he’s quite adorable. And on the right is my gingerbread man that I made when I was in Kindergarten. He’s looking a little ratty these days since he comes out every year. I think he use to have buttons on his eyes…poor guy.

Whenever my Granny visits she always brings with this amazing toffee. I sadly didn’t know how amazing this toffee was until a few years ago because my parents always told me that I wouldnt like it. Turns out that they were just trying to keep me away from it so they had more for themselves!

Since I had issues last time I made anything with a candy thermometer, I was a little apprehensive about making this. I used the holiday’s as an excuse to just go for it and I was surprised how simple it really was. All you really need is a candy thermometer! I have this cheap one from the grocery store, it isn’t great but it does the job well enough for how little I use it.

Break it up into pieces and put the toffee into little bags, voila! Makes a lovely home made gift for the holidays 🙂 and it’s quite delicious too.

Enjoy! I’ll be posting another home made holiday gift soon! 🙂

Madeline