Honey Caramels

Guest Post by Agnes of Hillsborough, NC

These caramels were made for the Hillsborough Beekeeper’s Association booth at the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh. They won a blue ribbon after creating quite a buzz!

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups honey
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Butter an 8-inch square pan. Set aside.
  • In a large, heavy saucepan (do not use non-stick), melt butter over medium high heat. Add honey, whipping cream and brown sugar. Increase heat to high and bring to a rapid boil. Once the mixture starts boiling, stir continuously.
  • If you own a candy thermometer, use it to monitor the temperature and continue stirring until the mixture reaches a “soft ball.” If you do not have a candy thermometer, follow the “quick tips” instructions below to test the temperature using ice water. From the time the caramel starts boiling rapidly, it will take about another 15 minutes to reach the “soft ball” phase, about 235 to 240 degrees. The mixture will be a deep brown color and it will have thickened a bit. Continue stirring at a rapid boil and after another 4 to 5 minutes. The mixture will have thickened a bit more and the candy thermometer should read 255 degrees, or “hard ball.” Stir in the vanilla, remove saucepan from the heat, and pour the mixture into the prepared pan.
  • Allow to cool at room temperature for a while, then place the pan in the refrigerator to harden fully. Using a very sharp knife or a pizza cutter, slice caramels into squares. Wrap tightly and store caramels in the refrigerator for up to a month. Caramels will be soft at room temperature, but firm if kept chilled.
  • Quick Tips
  • 1. To test the temperature of the caramel using ice water, set a cup of cold water and a few ice cubes aside within reach of the stove before you begin. Once the caramel begins to thicken and appear less runny, drop a small spoonful of the mixture into the cold water. If it is at “soft ball,” you should be able to keep it together by pressing gently with your fingers. It will not hold it’s shape very well, but it will stay in one piece. If you can’t make a ball out of it, keep stirring and cooking and test it again in a few minutes. After it has reached “soft ball” continue cooking for another 4 to 5 minutes until it thickens even more. Prepare a fresh cup of ice water and get ready to test it again in a few minutes. To test it for “hard ball,” drop a small spoonful of the mixture in the ice water again. At this point, the caramel should harden quickly and you should be able to roll it into a firm ball. Add the vanilla, remove from the heat and pour into the prepared pan. Follow the rest of the directions as indicated above.
  • 2. If you’d like, add some finely chopped toasted walnuts after you’ve poured the hot caramel into the prepared pan. Just sprinkle them onto the top of the smooth surface.
  • 3. This seems like a no-brainer, but the caramel is extremely hot when it first comes off the burner. As tempting as it may be, don’t dip a spoon into it and taste. Your taste buds may never forgive you and they certainly won’t forget. If you must sample it, scrape some caramel onto a spoon and set it aside for a few minutes before testing it out.

About the Guest Author

Agnes was raised on a farm in rural Ohio with her five sisters and a brother. Their home was always filled with the smells of homemade food. During the holidays, her Aunt Lizzie made cream caramels to give as gifts. This recipe is based upon that family recipe. Agnes has many hobbies including baking and candymaking, but one of her more recent interests is beekeeping. Her hives have produced a few seasons of honey, much of which she gives away to friends and family. She has also become creative in finding new uses for honey, such as this recipe. Agnes lives in Hillsborough, NC with her husband of 40 years. They spend hours tending to their proliferous vegetable garden and enjoying the natural beauty of their surroundings. She is the mother of two (I’m her firstborn) and grandmother to two (my sons!).


 

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

Cooking time: 1 hour(s)

Number of servings (yield): 1 – 8-inch square pan

2 responses to “Honey Caramels”

  1. Charlene Williams says:

    Hi Alicia,

    I’m very blessed and fortunate to live beside your mother and father. They are the matriarchs of the neighborhood of which we all aspire to be some day. In fact, my husband works hard to keep our grass growing green, so that we aren’t entirely shamed by your dad’s green thumb! They are a wonderful couple and we all admire and love them. When my husband was in Afghanistan in 2006, Andre and Aggie were there when I needed them. I want you to know I’m enjoying very much your “Weekly Greens”, great recipes with fresh simple ingredients. Thank you, Charlene Williams, Hillsborough, NC

    • Alicia says:

      Charlene, thanks for your very sweet message. I’m thrilled you are enjoying Weekly Greens and even more pleased that you’ve blessed my parents with your friendship. Thanks again for your note!

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