Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Recipe: Caramels

Ahhh caramels. So delicious and such a pain in the butt to make.

This is what I love about baking: it takes about 10 minutes to whip together a cake, you pop it in the oven and then have a good half an hour to take a shower or vacuum the living room. Then, while it cools, you whip up some frosting and still have the time to throw in another load of laundry. Baking and multi-tasking go hand in hand. I am a multi-tasker.

This was the first time I have ever attempted caramels and this is what I learned: caramels have to be babysat. Caramels take a looooong time to cook and someone has to stand there and stir them and adjust the heat and move the pot off the burner a little bit before it overflows - and clean up the mess when it does overflow. Caramels are high maintenance and you cannot multi-task while making caramels. If you undercook them you will have a whole lot of caramel sauce - if you overcook them, they will break your teeth.

However, caramels are on of my favorite things of all time. So chewy and delicious and though I complain, I will certainly be making them again - because I love them.

I tried two recipes Martha's Gingerbread Caramels and Martha's Deep Dark Chocolate Caramels. Both are fabulous. I added a bit more freshly grated nutmeg to the gingerbread caramels and they were spicy and fantastic. In fact, I am making them again today to tuck into a care package for a missionary (I know, we missed Christmas, but it will be a New Year's care package). The chocolate caramels were my favorite - I used Ghirardelli's Bittersweet chocolate. I also failed to read the recipe in advance and added all of the cream at the beginning. It did not seem to make a difference. Be warned - each of these recipes require at least an hour of stirring - make sure you have a book or a movie on your laptop to watch. The chocolate caramels took more like two hours. I had one batch of the chocolate caramels overflow (before I added the chocolate). Since I was worried about it not turning out, I started over. I set the rejected batch on the back burner and let it keep cooking, adding orange peel and cardamom for spices. It actually turned out just fine as well.

I wrapped them in waxed paper and gave them away with peanut butter fudge and chocolate peanut butter fudge as friend and neighbor gifts this year. Yum!

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