Tuesday, November 1

Happy November!

 Me as a little smidge

Halloween is the ultimate nostalgic holiday. While other holidays seem to have a sense of nostalgia as well, Halloween has such a sensory connection, that it becomes nostalgic on many levels: what costume did you wear? what candy did you have? By Halloween, the leaves have usually fallen, and the air is crisp (and if you live in Wisconsin, it might be one of the first cold days of the year as well!).
 My dearest friend Liza and I, at our first Halloween we could be excited about!
This year, while I didn't have a costume or a Halloween party to attend, I spent my day creating a new and memorable concoction; one that would have even the spookiest of witches wishing their brew was as good as mine! For those of you who know my family personally, you may recall that fall is the season for the Clark's caramels. A tradition my Poppa started quite a while back, of making caramels for the fall and winter holidays. 
Little witch, age 2 1/2
To put a twist on a holiday classic, I tried my hand at gingerbread caramels! And I must say, they turned out quite delectable. 

Gingerbread Caramel Chews
3 cups of white sugar
1 cup of brown sugar
1 quart of white corn syrup
1 pound of butter
1 quart of half and half cream; split into 1 cup and 3 cups
3 or 4 tablespoons of ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons of ground cloves
2 tablespoons of ground ginger
1 tablespoon of ground cardamom
1 tablespoon of ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon of vanilla
Kosher salt

1. Place the sugar, corn syrup, butter and 1 cup of the cream in a large, heavy bottom saucepan. The pan should be at least 8 quarts or larger. Heat over medium-high heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Then, gradually pour the remaining cream into the boiling mixture, in a fine stream, stirring constantly. Add spices and stir well, to incorporate.
2. Continue boiling while stirring until the mixture comes 247 degrees (medium-hard ball stage), approximately 1 hour. For softer chews, heat to 242 degrees.

3. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour into a well buttered 9x13 inch cake pan and sprinkle with kosher salt, lightly. The salt helps to bring out flavor later, but too much and you will be grabbing for a glass of water!

4. When thoroughly cooled (a few hours; be patient!) invert the pan and remove the caramel onto a cutting surface. Cut the caramels into long 1 inch strips with a buttered pizza roller. Then cut the strips into 1 inch squares. Wrap them in waxed paper and share with your friends.
Tasty treats, no tricks necessary
Note: If you accidentally heat the caramels too hot, not to fear! Just allow them to cool. Then, reheat the caramel mixture with an additional 3-4 tablespoons of water and bring to 247 degrees. Add the vanilla again, and allow to reset. If the caramels aren't heated high enough, then not to worry, just reheat them again to 247 degrees and add the vanilla again and allow to reset.

Also, to taste test the caramels as you go, dip a spoon in the mix and allow to cool. I found myself adding more of some spices as time went on. It really is an experiment, so adjust as you go, to your liking! Now this is really a sweet treat to die for, especially at Halloween time.
Happy Halloween, from me and Liza last year:
Liza was "Cold" and I was Pippi Longstockings!

Happy treating!

1 comment: