Monday, March 12, 2012

My Great-Grandma Iva's Caramels and Constellations

I had hives constellations today on my arms. Gotta lay off the dairy...
Why constellations, you may ask? The conversation went something like this:
Jordan: Why are you drawing on your arms?
Me (trying to avoid HSE homework): I'm making my hives into constellations, this one looks kinda like the big      dipper!
Jordan: You goof!

The following is one of my favorite dessert recipes, I haven't figured out how to modify it to be dairy free yet, but it's on the list of things to do.
So here it is, the long awaited caramel recipe! The recipe is from my Great-Grandma Iva Selinger. These are the ones I normally make and then bring a huge (and I mean huge, like gallon or walmart bag) bag of them to class or to the sorority house. It makes 14 dozen of them, so unless you have a classroom / sorority house / office full of hungry people, try making a half batch.

3 C Granulated Sugar
4 C Whipping cream, divided
2 1/4 C Light corn syrup
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
Butter (to grease the cookie sheet)
1 C Nuts
1/2 Bar paraffin ***
2 Squares unsweetened chocolate

You'll need a candy thermometer (try Target?), a big pot (not nonstick, it gets pretty warm and could make them taste funny), a cookie sheet (not nonstick, you'll scrape the coating off), and a wooden spoon. Put the cookie sheet on a stable surface and grease it with the butter, make sure that you'll have enough room to maneuver your pot over the cookie sheet to pour out the caramel (trust me, nothing burns quite like hot sugar!).

Boil sugar, syrup and 2 cups of cream to soft ball stage (235F), stirring often. Once you've reached the soft ball stage, slowly add the other 2 cups of cream and continue to boil. Boil to firm ball stage (245F) stirring often. Add the vanilla, nuts (if using), paraffin (if using) and chocolate (again, if using). Pour into the prepared  cookie sheet. Allow them to cool for at least 45 minutes. While you're waiting for the caramels to cool, cut up waxed paper into 2"x3" strips to wrap the finished caramels in. Once they're cooled off, use a butter knife  (or a pizza cutter if you're lazy) and cut the caramels into your desired shapes.

When you're wrapping the caramels, grease your *clean* hands and make sure all your jewelry is removed, it'll keep you from getting so sticky. ***Paraffin wax is sold under the brand name Gulf Wax in most stores in the canning supplies area, it makes the caramels less sticky and more flexible. You can omit it, just be prepared for stickier caramels.

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