Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Microwave Caramels - Great For Valentine Gift Giving

Caramels are one of the best candies on earth as far as I am concerned.   Smooth, buttery, delicious.  The definition of caramel is:   1. (noun) caramel 
firm chewy candy made from caramelized sugar and butter and milk

As a child, I always loved the individually wrapped caramels (like Kraft), chocolate bars with caramel centers and that one piece of chocolate in the assorted box of candy that had the caramel in it.  Beating my sister to it was another thing.

My husband's sister used to poke a hole in the bottom of all the candies in the box so she didn't get one she didn't like.  You know, that one with the really yucky gummy/jelly center.  Ewww.  I can't even think about it they were so bad.  But for the caramel center or the cherry cordial, I would have done that if my mom would have allowed such a thing.  Makes me laugh to think about her doing that.  Always made my husband so mad.  

Valentine's Day is getting closer by the minute and it's time to think about special treats for your Valentine(s).  Here is an easy recipe for caramels that would be perfect.  I made these for Superbowl Sunday - 1.   because they are gluten free and my son in love can eat them, and 2.  because they are delicious and everyone else likes them a lot.  What a great Valentine treat!  They are so good and so easy to make.  Just a few ingredients cooked in the microwave (no candy thermometer needed).  Mix them up,  pour them in a pan, let them set, dump them out and cut them up. How much easier could it be?   Making them a little fancy for gift giving is easy and eating them is a real treat - especially with that slight taste of the coarse sea salt on the gooey, buttery caramel.  Yum.  Our other son in love pocketed several to take home with him and the grandsons did too.

Here is what you need.


1/4 cup butter, cut in small cubes
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla
coarse sea salt

1 8 x 8 pan lined with aluminum foil so that it goes over the edge of the pan making it easy to lift the block of caramel out when it is set.  Spray the foil lightly with cooking spray.

In a microwave safe bowl (at least 2 quart), add the butter, white and brown sugars, syrup, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla.  Stir together.  Place in the microwave uncovered.  Cook on full power for 6 minutes if you want soft and chewy, or 7 minutes for firmer but chewy.  I went for 7 minutes.   Stir twice during cooking.  Remove from the microwave and stir until well mixed.  Pour hot caramel into the prepared pan.

Put the pan in the refrigerator until the caramel is firm enough to remove from the pan - approximately 40 - 60 minutes.  Pull up on the aluminum foil and remove the whole slab of caramel, peeling away the foil.   Blot any oil from the slab with paper towels.  Turn it over.

Place the slab on a cutting board covered with parchment or waxed paper and cut into desired size.    Mine had 7 across and 7 down for 49 pieces, or about 1 inch square for each piece.  Sprinkle  a scant amount of sea salt on each square.  I cut them this size so they would fit in the mini baking cups I had on hand.  I used the papers just to make them look pretty.  You can cut them any size you prefer.  Do NOT place them on any paper that is not slightly waxed because they are sticky and you will have a hard time getting the paper off the back of the caramels.  Not that I would know that from experience.
I had the little silver tray that's in the picture above.   I got it at the Dollar Tree in the wedding section.  It looks like a real silver tray, so if you want to give these caramels as a gift, you have only one dollar invested in the tray.  I put a couple of heart shaped doilies on the tray for color, then placed each caramel in a miniature baking cup and set them on the tray.  You can get these baking papers at most groceries.  If you want to use small plates for gift giving, you could use one like this.  You can find pretty, small plates at most dollar stores or thrift stores. 
What a sweet little treat for your favorite Valentine(s) or perhaps your child's teacher.  Take some to work to share.   You can wrap the plate in cellophane and tie it with a pretty bow and - ta dah! - you have a wonderful Valentine treat that came straight from your heart and didn't cost a fortune. 

These were quite a hit on Sunday, so I know they would be much appreciated for Valentine's Day or any other special occasion you may have coming up.  Give this recipe a try.  Smooth, buttery, delicious, easy.

Everyday Donna

Things to remember:

You know what Forrest Gump said:
Life is like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you're going to get.

1 comment:

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