Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Handcrafted Easter

Happy Easter!  This year I wanted to try making most of the candies in the Easter basket I put together for my kids.  I thought it would be a fun challenge so I set to work making a big box of marshmallows, chocolate covered pretzels, chocolate covered raisins, chocolate covered caramels, and regular caramels.  The kids were more than delighted with their haul and it was gratifying to make everything from scratch and watch them enjoy it.  Even though I was tempted to decorate sugar cookies, make nut clusters, and peanut brittle...I kept it simple and I was pretty happy with that decision.  
adapted from Barefoot Contessa How Easy is That?

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 cup heavy cream
5 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Line a small 8 or 10 inch pan with parchment paper that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
In a medium pot combine 1/4 cup water, sugar, and corn syrup.  Bring mixture to a boil, and continue to boil until the mixture is a warm golden brown color.  Do not stir the mixture, watch carefully.
At the same time the mixture is boiling, bring the cream, butter, and salt to a simmer in another small pot.  Remove from heat.
When the sugar mixture is ready, turn the heat off and very slowly and carefully drizzle the milk mixture into it.  It will boil and rise up rapidly so be prepared.  Once you have all of the milk incorporated turn the heat back on, add the vanilla, and cook until mixture reaches 248°F 9 on a candy thermometer, stirring occasionally.  
Carefully remove from heat and pour into the prepared pan.  Cool in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.  
Once it has cooled, remove the pan and set the caramel onto a cutting board.  Use a large knife to cut it in half and then carefully roll and fold the caramel until you have a log that is about one inch in diameter.  Repeat with remaining caramel and then slice it in individual pieces and wrap them in squares of parchment paper.  They will be softer than store bought caramels so they should be stored in the fridge and then brought to room temperature before serving.

*These can be dipped in melted chocolate and rolled in nuts for an even more luxurious treat.

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