Sunday, November 29, 2009

DIY XMAS: Caramels

The Frugal Hostess can't stop making candy.  Really.  This was inspired by the Betsy-Tacy books that TFH read when she was little.  For some reason, the main characters found making caramels as easy as blinking.  Not so.  TFH has tried it a thousand times, albeit with most of those times involving one or more wrong ingredients, and she's never had much success.  That is, until now.  Reader, FruHo presents: caramels!!!

Now, TFH is not going to pretend to have her own recipe or one adapted from someone else's.  When you're dealing with boiling hot sugar and soft ball stages (who knows), it's best to leave it to the experts.  This website has the recipe FruHo used, and it also has great explanations of all of the weird terms one encounters during candy-making.  Really, check it out; TFH will wait for you. 

Good, right?  So, here are a couple of helpful hints.

1.  Wax paper is not the same thing as parchment paper.  Bastards.

2.  If you want those cute little cubes of caramel candy a la Kraft or whatever, you should double this recipe, as it only makes enough for little flat squares that are half the size.  No idea whether doubling it will work, BTW.  But try!

3.  That thermometer thing in the recipe, you know, the one that you were planning to ignore?  Yeah, don't ignore it.  FruHo had every intention of judging the caramel by eye alone until FruHubs insisted otherwise, and she would have been SCREWED if she had.  FruHubs set up one of those thermometers that has a digital read-out and an alarm.  He set the alarm for the desired temperature and then told TFH to hold the stick part in the center of the (hot, boiling, arm-scarring) concoction without touching the pot.  (No, not that kind of pot.  Geez.)  It was hard, and FruHo needed to wear pot-holders on both hands so she could switch every so often, but the results were great.  The point at which she would've thought it was done and when it was actually done (when the alarm sounded) were miles apart.  Seriously.

4.  The Frugal Hostess recommends refrigerating the final product (after you've cut it, etc.) and then letting it come to room temperature before eating.  They taste very buttery and yummy, probably more buttery than you would expect.  But in a good way.  You'll love 'em!

The Frugal Hostess is getting fatter by the minute from eating all this candy.  Soon, she'll have to be fork-lifted out of the house. Please comment. You can also join the Frugalistas on Facebook for exclusive content, follow on Twitter @frugalhostess, or subscribe so that you always know when a new post appears.

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