I grew up with a Dad who made caramels every weekend from Halloween to Christmas. He made them with nuts, with chocolate, with fruit, with sea salt (my personal favorite), with just about everything, and I give him props because they were always delicious! I have never tried to make them because candy intimidates me to no end, but that all ended today. I told myself that it's Christmas, and having to be a bit more frugal this year I needed gifts for my neighbors, so the caramel experiment was born.
I am pleased to say that it turned out great! Not only are the caramels delicious, they are just as good as my dear old Dad's. I was thrilled with the outcome!
I have to be honest though, I didn't get it on the first try. I made them, but didn't let them boil for long enough so after they had set up, I pulled them out of the 9x13 baking dish, and put them back in the pan and boiled them for another 5 minutes. So if you make them and they're not done enough (if they're too sticky and still falling apart) just know that you can always reheat them and boil them again. Just remember that with candy you need to use a wooden spoon and you need to stir it constantly. I also didn't use a candy thermometer, but I'm sure that would have helped my problem. I just don't have one, so I did without. I mean come on, my Dad never used one. ;) If you are going to use one though my Dad said that you want the temp. to be 244 degrees. Okay, on to the recipe!
1 can Sweet and Condensed Milk (the good stuff, eagle brand)
1 (or 2) tsp. Vanilla (I really like my Mexican vanilla so I use 2)
2 1/4 cups Brown Sugar
1 cup Light Corn Syrup
1 cup Butter
In a pan melt the butter. Then over medium heat combine all the ingredients except for the vanilla. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until it comes to a rolling boil. Once it starts to boil the caramel will change color. It will get a light brown. Let it boil for about 6-7 minutes. After about 6 minutes get a cup of cold water and drizzle a little caramel into it. Let it cool for a few seconds and then see if you can roll it into a small ball with your fingers. If it still falls through your fingers it's not done. If you can make it into a soft ball your caramel is finished or if it reaches 244 degrees.
Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Line a baking dish with parchment paper and pour the caramel into the baking dish. Let set up either on the counter or the refrigerator until hard. Then to cut into little pieces I take the entire thing out holding the parchment paper and then cut with a pizza cutter to get exact pieces.