I had a hankering for caramels, and thought a little bag of hand-made caramels tied with pretty ribbon would make a great gift enclosure, so I looked in an old Fannie Farmer cookbook for a recipe. And by old, I mean copyright 1937. The recipe seemed quite simple, calling for just 4 ingredients: granulated sugar, corn syrup, heavy cream, and vanilla extract. The directions said to boil the mixture a total of 3 times, never getting hotter than 244 degrees, which, according to my candy thermometer, is the "firm ball" stage. "Firm ball" seems to describe caramels pretty well, so I dove right in.
|Chocolate-topped, pecan-crusted toffee.|
While I wound up with candy in gift bags anyway, I wonder what went wrong. I actually followed directions this time, knowing that candy-making does not leave much room for improvisation. I found a new recipe today for salted caramels, and notice the ingredient list is much longer: 3 kinds of sugar (white, brown, and corn syrup). heavy cream, butter, vanilla, and sea salt. Does the additional sugar help stave off the hard crack stage? Does the butter? I admit I am totally confounded by the science behind this problem, and to add to the confusion, the new recipe calls for heating the mixture to 255 degrees!
Can anyone help with this?