I love homemade Christmas gifts. For some reason they just seem so much more thoughtful. Don’t get me wrong, I still have a list of things that I would like that are “store bought” (are you listening honey?) but I do enjoy making and receiving gifts that someone put their own time and talents into. Every year finds me stitching up tea towels, table toppers, small quilts, etc. and I have been canning extra jam and salsa to give away. But my one homemade stand by gift is my caramel. An old friend shared her recipe with me years ago and it makes the most delicious, melt in your mouth caramel I have ever tasted! I always make a bag for all my friends, family members and neighbors and have on occasion overheard…”I wonder if Mary Jo is making her caramel again this year?” What a compliment.
In the past I have been hesitant to “give up” the recipe. This is not like me as I will share just about anything else. But this was different. After all, I am the one who makes the caramel and if everyone knew how it was made, it wouldn’t be as special.
About two Christmas’ ago a friend from church asked for the recipe. I compromised with her and told her I would give her the recipe if she came over and made it with me so she could see how it was done and we could share some girl time in the kitchen. It was so much fun. But that was it…no one else had the recipe.
I wish this was my recipe box, isn’t it cool?
Well this year my mindset is a little different. Here’s why. Today I was making caramel corn. A little different recipe but still very good. After a few batches, I thought to myself, “Why not make a batch of my famous homemade caramel so it can cool in between caramel corn batches?” I went to my handy dandy recipe box to get my caramel recipe, which has been written on the same piece of scratch pad stationery for the last 10 or so years. But…IT WAS GONE! I searched the box 3 times and no recipe. I searched the entire shelf of cookbooks…no recipe! Panic set in. I sorta knew the recipe, but didn’t “KNOW” the recipe. Why should I memorize it when it has been written on the same piece of paper forever and I only make it once a year.
Then I remembered I had given the recipe to my friend at church! I called and she read it back to me and we both had a laugh about my “secret” recipe being lost. I thought about what I would have done if I hadn’t shared that recipe. I would have been sunk. Sharing and loving one another is what we are made to do. This verse instantly came to my mind…”For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 Wow! If God can share His Son I think I can share a silly caramel recipe.
So here it is for anyone who would like to make and enjoy it and if I ever lose the recipe again, I will be sure to call you too!
4 sticks butter (salted or unsalted)
2 – 2 pound bags of brown sugar (I use light)
2 cups light Karo syrup
2 cans Sweetened Condensed Milk
Melt butter and brown sugar in a non-stick large pot over med-high heat. Add Karo syrup and sweetened condensed milk. Bring to boil stirring constantly. Boil for about 8-10 minutes stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Pour into a large baking dish lined with parchment paper…not wax paper. Ask me how I know Cool for several hours or overnight. Cut into desired size pieces and roll in wax paper and twist the ends. I usually pull the whole batch out of the pan and cut it right on the parchment paper with a cutting mat underneath. The caramel is soft and melts in your mouth. Get creative…I have added pecans and drizzled chocolate over the top and had turtles. I have put apples on sticks and dipped in the still warm caramel and rolled in chopped peanuts for amazing caramel apples. Make it your own!
Here’s hoping you have a truly blessed Christmas and a joyous New Year!
Mary Jo Boyd
Farm Girl Sister #5559