Vanilla Bourbon Caramel

December 8, 2008

12-7-2008-004

In the spirit of continuing to use up all of the Thanksgiving ingredients, I decided to try my hand at caramel.  My mother is the cany maker in the family and we all look forward to her treats at Christmas time, and though I observed and assisted while I was living at home,  this was my first time trying it solo.  (And without a candy thermometer!  I had a thermometer for frying/candy making, but when I got ready to use it, I realized it was broken.)

I cooked it to the point where is was a hard product.  If you want it softer, cook it less.  (Read here for a complete description of temperature and candy making. Read here for illustrations and video of soft ball, etc.)

2 C heavy cream

1 C butter

1 C brown sugar

1 C sugar

1 C dark corn syrup

1/2 C bourbon

1 t vanilla

Use a much bigger pan than you think you will need!  This stuff bubbles up!  And prepare to stir your little heart out for a while.  Do not leave the stove!  Consider yourself warned.

Butter a 8″ square dish (I use Pyrex) and place in it a sheet of waxed paper.

Heat sugars and syrup until bubbling, then add butter one tablespoon at a time (stirring until butter melts before adding the next chunk.)

Add 1 C of cream (stirring.)

When the mixture boils, add the remaining cream, bourbon and vanilla (still stirring.)

Stir.

Stir some more.

When you have reached your desired temperature (mine took about 20 minutes) pour into the dish you prepared with the waxed paper.

Since salted caramels are all the rage, I sprinkled a little sea salt on mine.  I quite enjoyed the taste.

Cool overnight (or for several hours) and use waxed paper to pull block out of pan.  I invert it on a cutting board and peel off the paper, then flip it over for cutting/shattering.

If you have made it soft, you can wrap individual pieces in wax paper.  In my case, I found laying waxed paper over the top and whacking it with a hammer to be the most efficient way of getting bite-sized pieces.

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