Sunday, December 22, 2013

Microwave Caramels

Kathleen and I tried a new(to us) recipe for caramels.  This is a great recipe, but it took longer to set up than the recipe stated.

Microwave Caramels
Gifts from the Kitchen | December 2006/January 2007/Country Home

Nonstick foil
1 C butter
2 1/2 C brown sugar
1 C karo syrup
1 14-OZ  can sweetened condensed milk
1 t. vanilla

Line a 9x9-inch baking pan with nonstick foil or buttered foil, allowing edges to hang over sides of pan; set aside.

In a large microwave-safe bowl combine butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and condensed milk; cover loosely with parchment paper.

Microwave on 100% power (high) for 4 or 5 minutes* or until butter starts to melt. Whisk to combine mixture. Microwave on high for 4 or 5 minutes* more. Whisk well. Microwave an additional 4 or 5 minutes*.  Whisk gently. Add vanilla. (Note: Bowl may get hot as mixture cooks; use hot pads to handle.)

Pour caramel mixture into the prepared pan. Chill for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until just firm. Using foil, lift block of caramel from the pan. Use a buttered knife to cut into 1-inch squares. Try the topping variations below, if desired, making several of the variations with 1 batch of caramels. Wrap individually with plastic wrap or waxed paper or place in candy cups in a covered gift tin or container. Store in an airtight container either chilled or at room temperature (we prefer chilled) for
up to 2 weeks. Makes 2 3/4 pounds (81 pieces).

*NOTE: Use the 4-minute timings for higher wattage microwave ovens(1,100 to 1,200 watts) and 5-minute timings for lower wattage ovens.

CONFETTI CARAMELS: Place 1/4 cup assorted colored sprinkles in a custard cup; set aside. In a small microwave-safe bowl place 1/2 cup white baking pieces. Microwave on 100% power (high) for 1 to 2 minutes or until melted, stopping every 30 seconds to stir. Dip bottom of each caramel in melted white chocolate. Dip into sprinkles and place on parchment or waxed paper until set. Enough to dip 20 caramels.

ORANGE-CRANBERRY DRIZZLES: In a custard cup combine 1 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel and 2 tablespoons snipped dried cranberries; set aside. When caramel is just set, sprinkle orange mixture atop one quarter of the pan (or desired portion); press lightly. Cut caramels as directed. Melt 1/4 cup white baking pieces as directed above. Place melted pieces in a small plastic bag; snip a small hole in the corner of the bag.  Place caramels on cooling rack over parchment paper. Drizzle with melted pieces by squeezing from bag over caramels. Enough for 20 caramels.

TOFFEE, ALMOND, OR CHOCOLATE TREATS: Place 1/2 cup chocolate-covered toffee pieces, sliced toasted almonds, and/or miniature semisweet chocolate pieces in a small, shallow bowl. After cutting caramels (they should still be slightly warm and a little soft), dip each into the desired topping gently pressing the bits into each caramel. Enough for 20 caramels.

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