It’s that time of the year. That wonderful time when everyone bakes and makes their specialties and traditional family treasures. Here in Maine, it’s quite common to receive a wonderful plate full of mixed baked goods or candy as a Merry Christmas wish. I personally think its a wonderful way of showing someone you care about them. Time, effort, thought and real love go into these types of gifts. One of our favorite candies is one that we buy in Freeport a few times a year. A bag of these little delights is 17.95. It pains me to delve out the money for these caramels filled with marshmallow and wrapped in wax paper. So, I decided that I would try to make them. After careful searching on the net and Pinterest I found two recipes that I combined into one with a few tweaks. I should also mention that the first batch of caramel went into the trash. However, take two, with a different recipe was a hit and luckily the first batch of marshmallow was a success. I also managed to use each of them for a few other confections as well. These two batches made dozens of candies. I made chocolate covered marshmallow squares, pecan turtles, and marshmallow caramels. These were so yummy and pretty also.
from the Barefoot Contessa’s family style cookbook
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup ice cold water
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 c. Light corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 c. water
confectioners sugar for dusting
Prepare a glass baking dish 8 x 12 (not metal) generously dusted with powdered sugar so the mixture will not stick to the dish. I learned the hard way.
Place 1/2 cup of water with the gelatin into your mixing bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Let sit and bloom while you are making the syrup.
Combine remaining water, sugar, glucose syrup and salt in a heavy saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer and cook until it reaches 240 degrees on your candy thermometer. Remove from heat immediately.
Turn mixer on slow speed and slowly pour syrup into mixing bowl [using a stand mixer will be so much easier than a hand mixer]. Once you have added all the the syrup into the mixing bowl, turn on high and mix until the marshmallow becomes lukewarm and whipped fairly stiff and glossy, approximately 15 minutes. Add vanilla about 20 – 30 seconds before you are ready to turn off the mixer.
spread into your prepared dish and dust generously again with powdered sugar. Let set and cool about an hour and begin working with it when it is able to be handled. You can leave these to dry uncovered or keep them soft by covering with waxed paper. If you are planning to use them in their soft state you will need to use them within a day and finish up your candy.
1 cup butter
2 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Make sure for this recipe you are using a candy thermometer, have all your ingredients and equipment ready to go.
Generously Butter a standard size baking sheet.
Melt Butter over low heat in a medium size sauce pan.
Add and mix sugar, corn syrup and condensed milk. Remember to pour sugar in center of pan, and if any sugar crystals stick to the side of your pan, brush them down with a damp pastry brush.
Cook and stir on medium heat until boiling, then clip your candy thermometer to the side of pan. Do not allow the thermometer to touch the bottom of the pan.
Reduce heat to medium or a temperature which allows for a steady, moderate boil. If you notice brown bits off the bottom of your pan when you stir you may need to lower it a bit or stir it more frequently. The lower the burner is set for the longer it will take to reach the temperature. It will eventually get there, be patient it can take 30 minutes to an hour.
When the thermometer reaches 235 degrees, remove pan from heat and stir in vanilla.( a typical caramel recipe will require you cook until 245 degrees). 235 to 245 will produce varying hardnesses for your caramel. I prefer a softer caramel and pulled mine at 230 degrees and let it sit overnight before I tried to work with it. If you are making strictly Caramels to eat, as is, I would go to the 245 degrees. When the desired temp is reached pour the caramel into your prepared baking sheet – use caution! This is a very hot mixture.
Allow to cool overnight then use a pizza cutter to slice into desired slices. After it has set place a piece of wax paper over the top and leave overnight.
Now it’s your turn to be creative… make a log of caramel filled with marshmallow and then slice into 1/2″ slices and wrap with wax paper, twist the ends to close.
Layer marshmallow and caramel, add nuts or just dip in melted chocolate. Cut squares of marshmallow and dip in chocolate. Toast nuts in oven for 5-8 minutes and make caramel pecan turtles. Whatever you like do, it’s all up to you.
One tip on melted chocolate. Use a large glass bowl and melt very slowly (20 seconds at a time) in microwave or on a double boiler. The trick to shiny chocolate and not chalky looking chocolate is stirring. After your chocolate is melted, stir it briskly for 3-5 minutes. It will be much shinier the more you stir it. Then dip away, I use a toothpick to dip.