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The word "Caramel" may have
different meanings, but when you hear the word "Caramels", you
probably think of a small square-shaped, soft
and chewy golden colored confection. These Maple Pecan Caramels still have that
sweet and creamy caramel flavor that dissolves slowly on the tongue but, as
their name implies, they also contain pure maple syrup and chopped pecans. These
two ingredients add a rich and complex nutty flavor to the caramels that makes
it just about impossible to eat only one.
As I have said before, many
approach candy making with trepidation and you can blame the problem on sugar
crystallization (that is, a grainy textured candy). Luckily there are a few precautions you can take to help
prevent this from happening in your kitchen. First, do not make candy on a humid
day unless you have adequate air conditioning. Second, the equipment. It is
important to use a heavy bottomed saucepan so the candy will not scorch under high
temperatures. Be sure to use a
spoon to stir the syrup as the sugar crystals will not stick
to wood as easily as they will to metal. And most importantly, buy a good
mercury or digital candy thermometer with a metal clip so you can fasten it to the side of
the pan. When using a candy thermometer make sure it doesn't touch the bottom of the pan as this can cause an inaccurate
temperature reading. If you think your candy thermometer may be inaccurate, you can test
its' accuracy by placing it in a saucepan of boiling water. The temperature
should read 212 degrees F (100 degrees C). If you find your thermometer is off
by a degree or two, simply adjust your recipe to take this into account. Another
thing about candy thermometers are that they are fragile so after each use place
in hot water (not cold) to dissolve the sugar coating. Never place a hot
thermometer into cold water as this can cause it to break. And be sure to store
your thermometer away from other kitchen utensils so it won't get banged around.
Lastly, cleaning the saucepan can be a problem. The best way to remove all that
hard caramelized sugar is to fill the saucepan with water and bring it to a
boil. Turn off the heat and let it sit until the sugar dissolves.
Before you begin making caramels
make sure you are familiar with the recipe and have all your ingredients
measured and within easy reach. This means having the butter, vanilla extract, and chopped
pecans at your side so when the caramels
reaches the correct temperature you can immediately
stir these ingredients into the caramel. Now, this is the important part. To
prevent sugar crystallization (which means a grainy
texture) make sure to stir the ingredients constantly until they reach the
boiling point. (This ensures that the sugar has completely melted.) Then, place
a tight fitting lid on the saucepan and let the sugar syrup boil this way for
a minute or two. (This allows steam to form which then condenses and washes off
any sugar crystals that have attached themselves to the sides of the saucepan.)
Then remove the lid and clamp a candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan.
Do not stir the boiling syrup, just brush down the sides of the pan, with a
heatproof pastry brush that has been dipped in warm water, to remove any sugar
crystals that may have formed on the sides of the saucepan.
This Carrot Cake is moist and
flavorful with grated carrots and is covered with a delicious cream cheese
Spritz Cookies, also
known as Swedish Butter Cookies or Pressed Butter Cookies, are a
very popular Christmas cookie. They have a lovely vanilla flavor and
a rich buttery texture that is tender crisp.
These beautiful chocolate
cupcakes have a wonderful chocolate flavor and are frosted with a
chocolate fudge frosting. more
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