Christmas Caramel

Mr. Pretty's Grandmother's recipe for homemade caramel...

When Grammy could no longer make the caramel for the holiday turtles, as well as the other yummy Christmas candies, I took over. She's gone now, and remembered fondly, and I am glad that I inherited this part of her legacy.  :)  This caramel is not difficult to make, but it does take quite a while.  That said, there truly is no match for the smell of homemade candy and bakery in my kitchen for the holidays. . .or any day, I guess. . .It's the best!

1 c. Butter (NOT margarine)     1 c. brown sugar
1 c. whipping cream                 2 c. white sugar
1 c. half-and-half                      1 c. pecans (halves or chopped)
1 c. white corn syrup                1 tsp. vanilla

Cook butter, whipping cream, half-and-half, corn syrup and sugars slowly over low heat, stirring occasionally.  Continue cooking to 240 degrees (F), just past the "soft-ball"' stage on a candy thermometer.  Remove from heat and stir in pecans and vanilla.  Pour into a greased 9 x 13-inch pan.  Can be cut and wrapped, or dipped in chocolate coating (when cool).

Other Notes:
  • You can see some of my notes written directly in the cookbook there, at least as the recipe applies to us when we make candy!
  • For cut candy, 240 is the right temp.  For filled chocolates and/or turtles, 225-230 is a softer consistency.  If you are doing both, use the lower temp., and refrigerate the candy before cutting and wrapping.
  • The candy will reach 180 degrees pretty quickly, but it always feels like it takes a loooong time to hit 230-240...I'm not sure of the science behind that, but I spend about an hour stirring and checking, and playing with the heat to get the mixture up to temp.
  • I use BUTTER to grease my pan, and always use a metal pan.  I don't know if hot candy will crack my glass baking dish, but my hunch is that it could, and I don't want to lose a single drop of caramel-y goodness.
  • HOT CARAMEL STICKS TO SKIN and spoons and anything it touches!  Be very careful...if you get this on you, head for cold water ASAP!
  • Cleanup is not difficult, but it takes some time.  Soak the cooled pan, spoons, etc in cool water for a bit, and the cooled caramel residue will slide right off!  Use a grease cutter detergent to wash all that butter and cream away.

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