Cookies For Dummies
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Caramel is the basis for several different homemade gifts from your kitchen. For instance, you can make caramel dessert apples and caramel pecan clusters, or you can use it in any other recipes that call for a basic caramel.

Homemade Caramels

Preparation time: 40 minutes plus 1 hour to cool

Yield: 1-1/2 pounds or about 75 pieces when cut

1 cup sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk

1/2 cup whipping cream

1 ounce shortening

Pinch of salt

  1. Line an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with nonstick paper.

    Nonstick paper can be wax paper or parchment paper. The finished caramel should be about 3/4 inch. If you want the pieces to be thicker, use a smaller pan.

  2. Combine the sugar, corn syrup, evaporated milk, cream, shortening, and salt in a 4- to 5-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon to blend and to ensure that the sugar dissolves.

  3. When the batch comes to a boil (about 25 minutes), the batch will boil up in the pot due to the milk and cream. Be careful not to boil over. Use a pastry brush dipped in water to wash sugar crystals down the inside of the pot. Clip a thermometer on the side of the pot, being sure that the tip doesn’t touch the bottom of the pot. Continue to boil over low heat.

    Washing down the sugar crystals that form on the inside of the pot is important if you want smooth caramels. Otherwise, you'll end up with grainy, gritty candy.

  4. After the ingredients boil up, they boil back down to the cooking level. This process takes about 10 minutes. Stir continuously after the batch lowers, and do not allow it to scorch.

  5. When the batch reaches 234 degrees F (after about another 15 minutes of boiling), remove it from the heat and remove the thermometer.

  6. Pour the batch into the baking pan and let the mixture cool for 1 hour at room temperature. Cut the batch into 3/4-inch squares, which makes about 75 pieces. Wrap each piece in a square of wax paper, to prevent pieces from sticking to each other.

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