HOWEVER, having said that, Monday's 24 hour cold snap gave me the opportunity to stir up my first batch of Vanilla Caramels. This recipe has become a holiday favorite, and a bit of a tradition for gifting loved ones both near and far.
So "how" you may ask, "do caramels preserve a life?" and I would have to say "a very good question!" I've been sending my grandmother these caramels for the past 4 or 5 Christmases and it brings me such happiness because I know it brings her such joy. Upon receiving these candies, she never fails to relate to me one of her fondest childhood memories of how her parents would give her a piece of caramel and chocolate before bed every night. It must work, because at 100 years young she still has a piece of candy at bedtime, until recently when she suffered a stroke.
She's having a hard time eating anything but oatmeal, yogurt and fruit. She said she thinks her taste buds suffered a stroke as well. Perhaps these caramels will perk up her taste buds, if not lift her spirit as well?
Here's the recipe in case you want to lift someone's spirit this season as well.
Vanilla Cream Caramels
(from Joy of Cooking)
Dissolve over low heat in a large heavy pan, stirring until the mixture boils:
2 cups sugar
2 cups dark corn syrup
1 cup butter
1 cup cream
1 cup cream
Return to heat and cook to the firm-ball stage, 244 degrees (again soft-ball stage, 234 degrees, at 5,000 ft elevation). Pour the mixture at once, without stirring, into a buttered pan (I use a 9x9 inch cake pan). When firm, about 3 hours later, invert candy onto a cutting board and cut into squares.
Makes about 2 1/2 pounds.