by Pia Rowe
Is there anything more divine than a homemade caramel lolly that just melts in your mouth?
The problem is that when you start searching for a recipe, most would have you believe that making homemade sweets is not for the fainthearted. This recipe is so simple that even a complete novice in the kitchen can make them, yet the results are so full of flavor that you’ll never want to buy ready-made caramels again!
Going back to basics, you won’t even need a candy thermometer to make this caramel, just a heavy bottomed saucepan, wooden spoon and about half an hour of your time.
The most tedious part of the process is wrapping them individually, and in fact if I was making them for my family I wouldn’t even bother. But if you’re looking to give these as a present to someone, put on some nice Christmas music to get in the mood, pour yourself a glass (or two) of wine, and wrap them up in cling wrap – or baking paper if you’re after a real rustic look – and put them in a nice jar (I challenge you not to eat every second piece along the way).
These are best stored in the fridge especially now as the temperature is rising. They will keep for up to two weeks, but usually they are long gone before then.
Makes about 40
1 cup cream
1 cup sugar
¼ cup golden syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
Before you start, line an oven dish with baking paper so that it is ready when you need to pour the caramel in it. Also, place a soup bowl full of cold water right next to the stove – you will use this to check that the caramel is ready.
Mix all the ingredients in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Note that the caramel mixture will bubble vigorously, so choose one which is only half full after you’ve added in all the ingredients.
Bring up to boil and keep stirring regularly. When it really gets going, you want to be standing right next to it the whole time.
Keep it bubbling for 20-30 minutes. The time will vary depending on the size of your saucepan, and how hot you manage to keep it.
When the caramel gets a bit thicker, drop 1/3 teaspoon of the mixture in the cold water bowl. If it hardens up enough so that you can form a soft ball with your fingers, the caramel is ready.
Pour it into the oven dish, and leave to set. If it’s really hot, you might want to pop it into the fridge.
Cut the caramels into bite size pieces and wrap. If they are sticking to your knife, spray it with a bit of oil, and pop them back into the fridge for a little bit.