As a child I used to make homemade candies. They were probably fairly tasteless and sugary, but even then I knew how impressive it was to make my own candy. I was inspired to make candy because, strangely enough, we owned a candy thermometer – was it my mom’s? My grandmother’s? Who knows, but I do still have one (the same one?) today.
Making candy was science. Fun science. I would boil sugar and water and vanilla and who knows what else and watch the mercury on the thermometer rise.
Soft-ball…. soft-crack…. hard-crack. Stop!
Then I would pour out my candy in a pan to cool. I had saved old sprinkles bottles (jimmies for you New Englanders) and other jars to store my candy in and when it had cooled I would break up the candy and fill the jars with the sugary shards. My own brand of candy.
I remember their distinct yellow color (from corn syrup maybe?) and my utter satisfaction.
I have now graduated to making caramels (and actually following a recipe!) Now instead of filling sprinkle jars I keep my caramels in clean applesauce jars, the candies cut more neatly into pudgy squares and wrapped (painstakingly) in waxed paper. One of my co-worker/friends introduced me to this particular recipe. She brought one in for me following a fall party of hers that I couldn’t attend and I savored the tangy, sweet, salty, caramely goodness. What is the recipe?!
So she sent it to me and I made them – three batches within close to three weeks. Is this a new Christmas tradition?
I’ve come a long way since my childhood experimenting days.
(That is NOT candy I’m making.)
Now I won’t say that caramels are easy, but they are definitely within your reach. You simply need patience, precision, and a thermometer. The hardest part is boiling it to the right temperature and the most tedious part is wrapping each individual caramel (since watching the cider boil down is fairly inactive on your part). I recommend
bribing getting someone to help you.
Anyway, turn on the stove, get out your butter and cream and put on some Christmas music while you wrap up these babies.
I promise you it will be worth it.