The Special Memory of Making the Caramels
My mom used to make Old-Fashioned Christmas Caramels at Christmas time. She would cook the recipe on the stove top. I would smell the sweet sugars cooking when I was a kid. The pot would be steaming with the red bulb of the candy thermometer sticking out the top. She would pour the sweet smelling caramels onto a cookie sheet and set the pan on the deck to solidify in the cold winter air. I can easily see this precious memory of my mom making the caramels because it is so ingrained in my brain from seeing it every Christmas.
We would continue to make other delicious Christmas cookies while the caramel sheet hardened outside. My mom would then score the sheet of solidified caramels into little rectangles using a sharp knife. We would scoop out the yummy rectangle morsels out of the grid and place them on squares of wax paper. We would roll up the caramels in wax paper and twist the ends of the paper. My mom would store our caramels in fridge and we would come and snack on them all Christmas season.
This recipe takes several hours to make with all the stages so allow at least an open half day to make it. The mixture needs to boil, then it is cooked over low heat until the soft ball stage is reached on the candy thermometer.
Recipe Origin is from my Grandma’s memory
I’m not sure where this Old-Fashioned Christmas Caramels recipe originated from so I can’t give proper credit. It came from my Grandma’s memory after my mother passed away. I could not find this recipe in our recipe box after my mom passed so I asked my Grandma if she recalled the recipe and I wrote it down. It is so important for us to have recipes we love from our past. Whether it is written down manually or entered into a computer we all should make sure our recipes are documented for our loved ones so they can make them.
Food memories are so special to people. Favorite foods from our past are so special to us because they touch our noses with their aroma. I am amazed how my brain remembers a familiar smell of a recipe from my childhood.
Food memories impact us in so many ways. The favorite foods are also cherished by our taste buds, bellies, eyes, hearts and souls. We fondly remember the texture and feel of the food. We remember who made it for us, what role we played in making it if any, and how they served it to us. If our grandma or mom served a favorite food on a certain plate, that image pops into our brains. The image of the person in the kitchen cooking pops in our brains and we cherish our memory. The food memory helps us celebrate.
Old-Fashioned Christmas Caramels
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup dark corn syrup
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup butter softened or melted
- Mix together the dark corn syrup, the light corn syrup, and sugar. Boil mixture lightly for 15 minutes. I love how when I stirred it this time the darker syrup made a heart shape!!
- Add 1 cup of butter. The butter will mix in better if already softened or melted rather than straight from the fridge. Add sweetened condensed milk and stir. The mixture is cooked over low heat until the soft ball stage on the candy thermometer.
- While waiting for the caramels to reach the soft ball stage on the thermometer, cut wax paper in five by five inch squares. Make a big stack of them.
- Once the mixture has reached the soft ball stage pour the caramel mixture into a shortening greased cookie sheet. Set the caramels cookie sheet in a cool place to harden. Then once they are solidified, score the caramels into 1/2" by 1 1/2" rectangles. I use a large cookie sheet and make 10 cuts across the width and 15 across the length.
- Pry caramel rectangles up with a butter knife and scoop them out. A butter knife or a spoon work well to do this step.
- Plop the caramel onto the wax paper square. Fold in one side, then the other and twist both ends.
- Completed! Makes about 150-176 caramels depending on how it is cut.
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