Monday, December 26, 2011

Mocha Caramels

I've been making homemade caramels at Thanksgiving and Christmas time with my mother for as long as I can remember. The recipe is so simple I have it memorized and have continued to make them for friends, family and coworkers each year.

The recipe from my mother is as follows:


Large pot with a flat bottom
1 wooden spoon with a straight edge (for scraping the bottom of the pot)
1 jelly roll pan greased well with butter
Waxed paper to wrap finished caramels

2 sticks real salted butter
1 C. Light karo syrup
1 C. Packed light brown sugar
1 can sweetened condensed milk

The above ingredients makes about 2 lbs of delicious buttery caramels. To make it mocha flavored I added:
3 tbsp. Cocoa powder
3 tbsp. Folgers instant coffee crystals (not grounds)

Add all your ingredients to the pot and stir well. It should look like this (for plain caramels it will be lighter)

Turn the heat to low/med but don't go over medium heat because sugar burns at a very low temp. At this point I like to chop up the butter with my spoon because it seems to melt faster. (It is important to keep stirring the caramel until it is done, there's no stopping once you start so make sure you have no interruptions.)

Stir, stir, stir until the butter melts and keep stirring. Once you start to see the syrup start boiling (at least 5-6 bubbles rolling up at once) using a candy thermometer, heat the mixture to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. aka hard ball stage. If you like them a bit softer, aim for 245 degrees.

The mixture will thicken as you stir. As you get closer to the end of 14 minutes it will be about the consistency of brownie batter. If you scrape the bottom of the pan you should see it for a moment until the caramel covers it again. (Please do not touch or taste the caramel mixture while you're cooking! It's really, really hot!)

At the end of 14 minutes turn off your burner and quickly pour the caramel into the jelly roll pan scraping the sides of the pot but NOT THE BOTTOM of the pot. The caramel on the bottom will harden too much and it makes it difficult to cut.

While the caramel is cooling you can make your wrappers from waxed paper. Pull several pieces of waxed paper from your roll at about 4-5 inches wide. Once you have a stack of about 20 fold into thirds and cut on the folds.

Let the caramel cool to room temperature before you cut it. Once it's cooled off use a butter knife to turn up one edge of the caramels and use clean hands to turn it out onto a cutting board. Using a pizza cutter, cut them to the desired size. Wrap in waxed paper. Will last for up to 2 weeks...I think. They've never lasted that long in our house.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Fused Glass Christmas Ornaments

I recently got into making fused glass ornaments at the art studio I do my pottery out of. I took some crappy cell phone pics of them last they are!

Fused glass ornaments

And speaking speaking of pottery, here is a mug I'm working on for my redditgifts match :) it's so awesome I kind of want to keep it. But I guess I can always make a new one for myself.