I originally published this recipe last year, but ... 'tis the season.
This microwave caramel recipe uses heavy cream, which I think makes a more authentic caramel than either sweetened condensed milk or evaporated milk. Making caramels is tricky. The length of time that you cook the caramel mixture determines the firmness of the candy. If you don't cook the mixture long enough, it won't set up, but can be used as ice cream or waffle topping. My family likes their caramels just hard enough to hold their shape in the wrapper. If you cook this recipe longer, it tastes like Mackintosh's Toffee. That is a Canadian treat, I think. We used to buy it at the snack shop when we attended music camp at the International Peace Garden.
Tis the season, I digress.
The point is, cooking this a bit longer makes it firmer, but still delicious. I have made this recipe countless times and it has never failed. The microwave is a candy makers friend. No scorching on the bottom. But let me just remind you that this mixture gets extremely hot. Your bowl will be hot, so use potholders.
Do not use a plastic bowl or spoons.
This is not a recipe for children. Be careful to avoid splashes or spills.
1 Cup Unsalted Butter
2 Cups Granulated Sugar
2 Cups Dark Corn Syrup
2 Cups Heavy Cream (divided into 1 Cup additions)
In a large (3 or 4 quart) microwaveable (I use Pyrex) bowl melt the Butter in the microwave. Stir the Sugar, Corn Syrup and 1 Cup of the Heavy Cream into the melted Butter.
Microwave on high heat for 20-25 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes until the mixture reaches hard ball stage. (245-250 degrees Fahrenheit)
Slowly stir in remaining 1 Cup of Heavy Cream.
Return to the microwave and cook on high for another 10-15 minutes until hard ball temperature is reached again.
Pour into a buttered Pyrex baking dish and allow to cool for three hours.
Cut and wrap individual pieces.
And now a few notes from my kitchen.
Be careful if you are just learning to make candy.
The reason that you need a big bowl is that the caramel boils up as it cooks and especially as it is stirred.
In fact, I don't stir the mixture every five minutes. I just let it cook for twenty minutes uninterrupted and then stir in the cream. Unless you have a very old microwave, I think this method will work.
Invest in a candy thermometer. It is tricky to determine what is a firm ball until it is too hard.
I usually make two batches of caramels at Christmas time. I have two different sizes of Pyrex pans. That is fine. The smaller pan makes thicker pieces, but as long as you can cut through it, it works.
To cut the caramel, I use a scraper which is available here. I have also used a wide knife and pressed it through the caramel.
One of these, which I think is a cake decorating tool, is handy for removing individual pieces once they are cut.
Size is personal preference. Some caramel makers make tasting size which is about 1/4 of my pieces. I don't want to spend that much time wrapping.
I wrap in Parchment Paper for several reasons. It doesn't stick to the caramels and I can buy it at my nearest grocery store. I have found that plain waxed paper doesn't twist as well and I am afraid of foil getting into someone's mouth. You can buy precut caramel wrappers, but I cut my own.
I start with a long sheet of Parchment. I fold the length in fourths.
Slide a knife along the folded edge to cut the sheet.
Cut into appropriate sized squares.
I use rectangles, so I cut rectangles.
Place a piece of caramel on each piece of Parchment.
Roll the narrow width around the caramel.
I use a twist wrap, but use what works for you.
Twist both ends the same direction, "with the roll."
If you want to keep them for Christmas, you will have to hide the caramels.
An sturdy plastic box works in GriggsDakota.