Monday, December 18, 2006


Chocolate-Dipped Caramels
The All-New Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook Copyright 2006

1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup dark corn syrup
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ½ cups semisweet chocolate morsels
2 tablespoons shortening

Bring first 3 ingredients to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat; cook 7 minutes, without stirring. Stir in condensed milk, and bring to a boil; cook stirring constantly, 10 minutes or until a candy thermometer reaches 245 degrees. I think my thermometer was wonky because after more than 20 minutes I still was only at about 240 degrees.

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour into a lightly greased aluminum foil-lined 8x8-inch dish. Let stand 8 hours at room temperature. I moved on to the next step after only about 3-4 hours.

Cut caramel into ½-inch squares, and shape into balls.

Melt chocolate and shortening in a saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat. Dip balls into melted chocolate mixture; place on wax paper. Chill 8 hours.

Yield: 10 dozen

Yesterday marked the start of the Christmas baking/candy making season. I planned, I scheduled, I organized but one thing I couldn't control is the raging case of PMS I'm dealing with right now. Not only has every ounce of energy been sapped out of my body, everything seems to be going wrong too.

I started with this new recipe. Candy thermometers have always been a thorn in my side but I dove in, hoping for the best. Everything was going smoothly but I could not get the temperature above 240 degreees. Finally, I had to face the fact that my candy thermometer, although a newer, more expensive model than the cheapo dollar stores ones that I've used in the past, was not accurate. Although when I tested it in boiling water afterwards it actually read higher than it should have so I really don't know what was going on with it.

So, the caramel was overcooked, but the disasters didn't stop there. After I took out the thermometer, it fell off the counter and took the 16-ounce bottle of vanilla with it. I wasn't sure if I had closed the top of the vanilla bottle completely so I quickly reached for it, but I grabbed the thermometer instead, getting a few fingers covered with hot caramel in the process. That really hurt. A lot.

Until later, when I got such nasty blisters while cutting through the stiff caramel that the word blisters doesn't really do them justice. At least I forgot about the caramel burns which were a mere annoyance compared to the blisters. (And to really top things off, I got an earful from my son for using his Spongebob band-aids.)

The caramel was still chewable, just a bit firmer than I would have liked. The firmness really made the cutting and rolling into balls much more difficult than it should have been. I actually gave up on rolling it into balls after a while and instead made little squares.

Would I make these again? Yes, actually. After all that, I was pleased with the results. Hopefully next time I make these the caramel will be a bit softer but I guess if I had to err, it was best to go in the direction of too firm since if they had been too soft, I don't know what I would have done.

Stayed tuned tomorrow for disasters in fudge making. Things just aren't going very well this year. Damn PMS.

(I'm going to put Blast From The Past and the Question of the Day on hold until after Christmas.)


Anonymous said...

Gosh, I'm so sorry you got burned! OUCH. For the reasons you mentioned (injuries + wacky candy thermometers), I haven't made "real" candy in years.

The results do look fantabulous... :)

Anonymous said...

OUCH! Candy is not something that I have tackled, or plan to tackle in the future, other than these do look good...I've helped MIL make homemade Turtles (TM) in the past but they are way more work than they are worth. I just buy a box each year. But, if my child had a nut allergy (and I know your baby does) I think I would attempt more just so they don't miss out.

Anonymous said...

I'm just going to congratulate you for working with hot sugar, you're braver than I.

Anonymous said...

Oh poor you. The things we do for our love of cooking/baking. I'd love to taste one cause they look fabulous.

Anonymous said...

Glad your comments are back! Sorry that you got burned...I burned my thumb last week trying to push the oven rack back in, I was a little too close when I pulled my hand up! These look really good, and by looks you would never know they were overdone!