I hated missing Week 9 of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies & Sweets. Truly loathed having to do it. But with Thanksgiving falling on the same day, there was far too much going on in the kitchen and far too little daylight to go around to document it. I chose to let it go and focus on family instead. I hope you’ll forgive me.
By about this time, I start to kick my Christmas baking into overgear. There’s less than a month left, folks! Anything you bake at this point should be fine frozen until the big day. No worries.
This treat, however, is not one destined for the freezer. It can be used to accent cookie trays or wrapped up for gift-giving. Or you can keep it all to yourself to help you get through the stressful next few weeks. I understand.
The last time I made caramels was far too long ago: the end of December 2010. Why I’ve waited so long to make them again, I don’t know. I have made some caramel sauces in the intervening time, but that’s not the same. (I’ve also burnt some caramel sauces in that time, but we’ll pretend that didn’t happen.)
Homemade caramels are fairly easy. You throw stuff in a pot, you put it on medium heat, and you watch it until it reaches the right temperature, then pour it into a parchment-lined pan to cool before cutting. A candy thermometer is a must, and you really should calibrate it before using it for candy-making. Put it in a pot of boiling water and it should read 212 degrees Fahrenheit (there is a more complex method of calculating this, including adjustments for elevation; I’ll leave that to you). If the thermometer reads differently, remember to adjust by that difference for all temperatures you’re trying to reach in candy-making.
And so the countdown continues…
- 1 cup vanilla sugar
- 1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
- ¾ cup pure maple syrup
- ¼ tsp fleur de sel (a flaky sea salt)
- ⅛ tsp nutmeg
- ½ cup (8 Tbsp) unsalted butter, cut up
- 2 cups store-bought eggnog
- Grease an 8"x8" baking dish and line with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a large, heavy-bottomed pan, combine all the ingredients. Set over medium-high heat until it starts boiling.
- Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan, being careful that it is submerged but does not touch the bottom of the pan.
- Reduce heat to medium and allow the mixture to bubble along. You can stir from time to time with a silicone spatula, but the less stirring you do, the better; less chance of crystallization occurring.
- Once your mixture reaches firm ball stage (about 248 degrees Fahrenheit), remove pan from the stove and pour caramel into the prepared dish.
- Allow to cool at room temperature or in the refrigerator for several hours.
- Cut into logs or cubes, wrapping each portion in parchment or wax paper. Store in an air-tight container in a cool place for up to 3 weeks.
I want to thank Brenda at Meal Planning Magic for putting this group together. What an undertaking! What did the others make this time for the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies & Sweets blog hop?