In 2012, my partner and I bought a house. Income is wonky for a writer at my level (with my health problems) but I still wanted to invest equally to make it our house rather than the house she bought and I lived in.
Since my cupboards bulged with baking material I didn’t care to move, I decided to use up everything in the cabinet and host a bake sale. A couple artist friends threw in with me and we had a holiday boutique in the common room of my apartment building. The food sold faster than everything else – I wish the ladies had done better, but we had a really squirrelly, nosy apartment manager to dodge so we did as we could.
One of the more popular items at the sale? My caramels. I don’t use corn syrup – it’s unnecessary and we made caramel before that stuff ever existed. I used the following recipe for the lavender caramel:
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups lavender syrup – purchased pre-made from Kitchen Window
- 1 cup butter
- 2 cups goat’s milk.
You can substitute cream for goat’s milk or even evaporated milk. The syrups you can sub in can be flavored traditional sugar syrups, molasses, honey, maple syrup and the flavored fruit syrups popular at ethnic groceries.
There is absolutely no way around using a candy thermometer mix – the hard ball/soft ball method just doesn’t work consistently in all geographies. The closer you are to see level, the more likely you need everything to work at a higher temperature.
Begin by melting the sugar and butter, then add the syrup and one cup of the milk. Heat to 334 degrees (this has been the optimum so far for me.) When it reaches 334, take off heat immediately, stir in the remaining cup of milk and then reheat again to 334. Once it hits that magic number, take it off heat again and pour into a heat proof container. You may want to have parchment paper or wax paper laid down in it first. Then leave to cool for at least 12 hours.
The next day cut into small slices and wrap into wax paper – et voila, caramel candy!
I also made rose caramel although that was a bit more difficult – I’m not obsessed with the possibility of making a rose caramel with coconut milk. The delicacy of it is amazing but I can’t quite get it to hold up as candy – I did however use regular cream on the rose caramel and that worked well. It did, however, confuse some people who aren’t used to floral candies.