I love making homemade candy every Christmas. I also enjoy giving candy away to friends and neighbors as little gifts.
The first couple of years that I made caramel from scratch, it was not a positive experience. I followed other suggestions I'd found to a "T" for the preparation, but it just didn't work for me. For example, many recipes suggest using foil to line the caramel pan. This was a disaster. The foil, even though it was buttered, stuck to the caramel and it was quite a chore having to pick off the little pieces from the candy. Ugh. Then - trying to cut the caramel with a sharp knife was difficult and my hand was really sore by the time I finished. Through trial and error, I found that when making this type of candy, it is best to ALWAYS use parchment paper to line the pan. It never sticks to the candy and it can be easily removed in one sheet. Second, I use a dough scraper (like this one) to cut the caramel into pieces. It is MUCH easier to cut the caramel, and the little handle on the scraper is easy to grip onto. Now, caramel making is a more pleasant experience - that's for sure!
Anyway, this is the recipe I use for my caramel. It is buttery and yummy, and people love it. Enjoy!
Homemade Buttery Caramel Recipe:
1 pound of butter (4 sticks)
2 pounds of brown sugar (1 bag)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups light corn syrup
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
1 Tablespoon vanilla
Optional: Chopped walnuts (1-2 cups, as desired)
1) Melt butter in a heavy deep pan.
2) Add sugar and salt; stir thoroughly.
8) Pour caramel into a large parchment paper lined pan. (The pan I used was 18" by 13"). Let cool.
9) Lift the cooled caramel out of pan, picking it up by the parchment paper. Use the dough cutter to score the candy and cut into squares. I make all of the cuts in one direction first, then turn the pan 1/4 of a turn and cut the other direction.
10) Separate the caramels and wrap them with cellophane candy wrappers. I use a 4 1/4" by 4 1/4" size, which seems to be a perfect fit. I purchased my wrappers from here.
Yield: Makes 5 pounds of candy, or approximately 135 1-1/2" pieces.
Happy candy making!