My mother-in-law got this recipe some years ago from a man named Wally. And that is all I know, besides this: these caramels will win you friends and render your enemies powerless with their soft buttery goodness. Try them, you will see.
*Important: before you start making these, calibrate your candy thermometer. To do this, bring a pot of water to a boil. Put thermometer in the water (make sure it doesn't touch the bottom of the pot) and take the temp of the boiling water. The boiling point for water is 212F, but your candy thermometer may read the temp as lower. This varies according to individual thermometer, your altitude and even the weather. Last time I made these caramels, my thermometer read the boiling point as 193F. I had to cook the caramels 19 degrees lower than the 235F the recipe calls for, so I cooked them to 216F and they were perfect.
yield: 143 caramels (1 inch square)
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups white Karo Syrup
2 sticks (1/2 lb) butter plus extra to butter the pan
1 15 oz can of evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla
Butter a cookie sheet with a lip (11" x 13" x 1" works great). Hopefully your pan looks better than mine. Yikes!
In a large saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, butter and 2/3 of the can of milk.
Heat over medium-low heat, bring to a boil and let boil, stirring frequently for 10 minutes.
Add the remaining 1/3 can of milk.
Continue cooking over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. It should start to take on that nice caramel color here.
Boil to 235F, or the adjusted temperature for your thermometer, see note above. Make sure your thermometer doesn't touch the bottom of the pan, or it will tell you the caramels are hotter than they actually are!
Stirring constantly, add 1 tsp vanilla. Have it pre-measured or have someone measure it for you and pour it in, you can not stop stirring to measure the vanilla or your caramels will burn on the bottom!
Pour into buttered pan and let cool.
We like to put the caramels in the fridge for a half hour before wrapping them. These are soft caramels, so chilling them makes them a little easier to handle. Of course, you will want to serve the caramels at room temperature.
To wrap: cut the caramels into 1 inch squares. A pizza cutter is the easiest way to do this.
Place a caramel in the middle of a square of wax paper.
Starting from the bottom, roll the caramel up in the paper, leaving the sides loose.
Twist the sides of the paper tight next to the caramel. If the first couple that you wrap don't turn out just right, simply unwrap them and pop them into your mouth. Yum!