Making caramels are much easier than you may think. All you need to do is gather your ingredients then dump them into a pot and wait until it reaches 250 degrees, the soft ball stage.
I did get somewhat frustrated with it because it took forever to reach that temperature...at some point I even thought my candy thermometer was broken. I believe it's got to do with the amount of water added to the caramel at first. water evaporates at 100 degrees C so the mixture will remain at 100 degrees until all the water is evaporated. It's just a little hunch. Maybe if anyone tries to make caramel without adding water, they can tell me if theirs came to temperature a bit faster. I swear mine took 20 minutes.
Btw, you will be needing a candy thermometer to make caramels. I got mine for 20 bucks on amazon but if you don't want to buy one, you could also do the water test, which is by dropping a little bit of the caramel into the water and see if it can be clumped into a soft but slightly firm ball. I used both the thermometer and the water test just in case my thermometer was broken.
Another thing totally frustrating was the butter... The milk solids in the butter would bubble up and give off it's moisture during the cooking process. If you look at the first caramel picture, you'll notice that it almost boiled over. I had to switch to a bigger pot to prevent spillage and it was just barely big enough to contain all the bubbles. When the butter settles down, it will start to get thick and the bubbles will become bigger.
I bought this book almost 2 years ago and it is honestly embarrassing to say that this is the first time I made something from this book. I have a horrible habit of buying cookbooks to look at the pictures but never using them.
And of course I didn't follow the ingredients exactly as is...I never do. I left out a tbsp of lemon juice and 1 tsp of salt. I used salted butter in this recipe and it worked perfectly fine.
I try to use salted butter in baking as much as possible although everyone tells you not to. The only time I don't use salted butter is in frostings. You can barely tell the difference in cakes and cookies.
The reason is simple, a block of unsalted butter cost 5 dollars and salted is only half the price. Why pay the extra if you can't tell the difference?
3/4 cup butter
2 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup cream
1 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup water
1 tbps vanilla
This is already my second pot and as you can see, it was just barely large enough to contain all the liquid.
After what feels like 10 minutes of boiling, the mixture becomes thicker and you can feel the stickiness when you stir. At this point, all the moisture has evaporated and you can see that the temperature has reached beyond the water's boiling temperature and is now at the "Thread" stage.
This is what the caramel looks like when it is done. There are small bubbles but because its so sticky and the bubbles are glued to each other, the "bursting" bubbles are quite large. Does that make any sense?
The recipe actually makes double what you see here. But since I made caramel apples (Yummmm), this is what I was left with. Butter the pan and line with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper and pour in the caramel. Let it set for at least 4 hours in the fridge.
It's quite difficult to cut them when they are right out of the fridge. Once you let them come a little closer to room temperature they will slice much easier.
Wrap them in wax paper and you'll have home-made caramel candies!