In my recipe card file, I have many recipes that have been handed down to me over the years from the grandmas, moms, aunts, sisters, cousins, and treasured friends. When I went through the recipe card box yesterday, I was reminded that even the box was a gift! It must be at least 30 or 35 years old, and it was given to me one Christmas by my sister-in-law.
It is a beautiful wooden box with a charming picture decoupaged on the top. That is ONE way I KNOW that it is at least 30 years old ;o) But it brings back so many memories every time I open it . . . . and I keep it right on my kitchen counter. It has always been on my kitchen counter, no matter where we have lived over those 30 years of making memories. But when I open that treasured little box, so many more memories come alive in my heart and in my mind! This holiday season, for the first time in a couple of years, I'm really in the mood to do some holiday baking, and I want to share that with my readers who also treasure the simple, homemade joy of family, friendships, traditions and memories.
The first recipe I wanted to share today is one that I have made frequently over the years, but not nearly so often as one of my oldest and dearest friends, Auntie Ellen. Now, of course, she really isn't my children's aunt, biologically speaking . . . but we have been friends since our oldest children were babies, and that is a LONG time!
We walked with each other through some dark and painful days, and we celebrated together in the joyous moments that make motherhood a bittersweet gift. We've just always been there for each other, and I'm sure you have a friend or two like Ellen . . . . . no matter how long it has been since you've chatted over a cup of coffee, whispering and giggling like two school girls, as soon as I hear her voice, we just pick up again as if we had just finished our previous conversation a minute or two ago. Auntie Ellen makes her Creamy Caramels every year for her entire family . . . . which always includes us, of course . .. . and she has done that for so many years, I don't even know how long this recipe has actually been a tradition in her family!
I should ask her where she got the recipe. Maybe it was one that was handed down to her from her mom, or her grandma. But the story of Auntie Ellen's Creamy Caramels in our family is that, ever since she started making these wonderful little yummy delights and giving them to us at the holidays, I knew that I needed to get the recipe from her. So, after a few years when I was looking for another great holiday recipe, I called up Auntie Ellen and she gave me the recipe. And we've been making these caramels ever since!
Of course, I always look forward to getting Auntie Ellen's caramels, because they are so much better than mine ;o) But we keep practicing, and one day ours might be almost as good as hers! Here is the recipe, and since I didn't have any pictures (yet) of my family making our caramels this year, I found a similar recipe at "How to Make Caramels," by Elizabeth LaBau, and have included a few of the pictures that you can find there. Please take a peek around that website, and you'll find lots of really fun holiday recipes. I've actually decided to try out a couple new recipes this year with the girls, because you can never have too many traditions, especially at the holidays!
Auntie Ellen's Creamy Caramels
* 2 cups sugar
* 3/4 cup light corn syrup
* 2 cups light cream (20%)
* 1/2 cup butter
Butter square pan, 8 X 8 X 2 inches, or line pan with tinfoil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Combine sugar,corn syrup, butter and half the cream in large saucepan. Heat to boiling over medium heat, stirring constantly. Stir in remain cream.
Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, to 245 degrees on a candy thermometer (or until a small amount ofmixture droppedinto very cold water forms a firm ball. This is the way my mama always did it!)
Immediately spread mixture evenly in pan. Cool. Cut into 1" squares. Makes about 5 dozen candies. You can wrap the individual caramels in squares of wax paper or tinfoil to keep them from sticking to each other and to hold their shape.
Thank you to Elizabeth LaBau for the beautiful pictures! Please visit her website to find so many more great holiday recipes . . . I wonder if she knows Auntie Ellen, too? ;o)