Here is my sister-in-law's famous caramel recipe. I made five batches this year, mostly for teacher gifts.
Makes 8x8 pan, or 2 1/2 lbs.
To prepare the pan: line with parchment paper, then butter the parchment lightly.
1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp. sea salt, or to taste
1 tsp. vanilla
Melt butter over low heat. Add brown sugar, corn syrup, and sweetened condensed milk.
Raise range heat to medium. Stirring constantly, cook caramels for about 8-12 minutes.
Your range and the heat you use will determine cooking time.
As caramels cook, use a candy thermometer.
My best caramels are cooked to exactly 240 degrees.
(The heat tends to fog the thermometer, so I finally marked the line with a Sharpie).
As soon as the caramels reach 240, turn off heat and stir in your sea salt. I use freshly-ground salt.
Add vanilla, stir.
Place a large sieve into your pan, or ask someone to hold the sieve for you. Pour caramels through the sieve, into prepared pan. Cool completely. I usually let them cool all day,
until my daughters have time to help me wrap them.
To wrap: you'll need about 65 wrappers, depending on how big you cut your caramels.
Wrappers are easy to cut out of wax paper, or you can buy them at a bakery supply store.
Invert the pan over a big cutting board.
Keep knife moving as you cut. They are so buttery, the knife won't stick as long
as you keep moving it. I use a big chef's knife.
I like to cut them in rows about 1 1/2 inches wide, then cut each row into narrow pieces.
(The width of the row becomes the length of the caramels).
Enjoy! These are pretty amazing. So why do we make them only at Christmas?