Chocolate Caramels

Anne with an ‘e.’ Anyone who read the Anne of Green Gables series or watched the television series knows that line well.

My best friend/kindred spirit, Maddy, and I watched the series religiously in high school and always understood why the ‘e’ at the end of my name is so important. She gets me.

Low and behold, Maddy surprised me with The Anne of Green Gables Cookbook this Christmas. It was written by the granddaughter of L.M. Montgomery, the amazing author of the children’s series. I was so touched by such a special and serious throw back gift.

The book is beautiful with pictures from Prince Edward Island, quotes from the series, and recipes that we’re important to the story. Reading it was like walking down memory lane, or “the Avenue,” a.k.a. “ theWhite Way of Delight.”

Now, with that lead up you’d think I killed it in the kitchen today. Yeah, no. I destroyed this recipe. What was meant to be buttery, soft caramels turned out to be a rock hard, not so yummy brick.

Our niece and nephew came over for today’s recipe experiment and Paul, Gwen, Flynn, & I all had a blast taking turns stirring madly as the sugary concoction melted and boiled away. We all thoroughly enjoyed watching the liquidy goodness get super thick. But I gotta say, this simple yet delicious sounding treat did not come together.

I think where I went wrong was not using a candy thermometer. I’m quite certain Anne Shirley didn’t have one when she cooked but this Anne needs dummy-proof help. Needless to say, we cooked it for way too long.

So I covered the brown block with a dish towel and grabbed one of Paul’s hammers from the garage. With one whack, shards of brittle flew everywhere. The thick, toffee consistency wouldn’t have been a problem except that the flavor wasn’t good. It tasted like it had far too much molasses in it.

So if you decide to make this, my suggestions are to use a candy thermometer and light brown sugar. Oh and as Marilla said, “You must keep your wits about you in the kitchen.”

Chocolate Caramels (recipe care of Kate Macdonald)

INGREDIENTS: 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter (plus more for greasing), 3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, 1 1/4 cups sweetened condensed milk, 1/4 cup corn syrup, 2 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar

DIRECTIONS: Grease an 8×8-inch baking pan with butter. Set it aside. Add the butter, chocolate, sweetened condensed milk, corn syrup, and brown sugar to a large, heavy saucepan. Mix with a wooden spoon. Place the saucepan over medium heat and let the mixture come to a boil. Let the chocolate melt completely. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the mixture for 30 minutes. It should boil gently during this time. With the wooden spoon, stir the mixture constantly the entire time. It’s important to stir constantly because candy burns easily. When it’s cooked, the candy will be very thick. Pour it into the baking pan and set it on a cooling rack. Let the candy cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours, then cut it into 3/4-inch squares.

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