A friend of mine made these delicious caramels last time we were in Auburn. They are so yummy! The recipe is tweaked from a Better Homes and Garden cookbook.
1 C butter
1 16-oz. pkg brown sugar (2 1/4 C)
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 C light corn syrup
3 Tbsp. instant coffee
1 C chopped walnuts
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2-1 tsp. finely shredded orange peel (I omit this)
dark chocolate chips
Line an 8x8x2 in or 9x9x2 in baking pan with foil (the nonstick kind works best). Butter the foil; set aside.
In heavy 3-qt saucepan melt butter over low heat. Stir in brown sugar, sweetened condensed milk, corn syrup, and coffee.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until candy thermometer reaches 248 degrees or candy reaches *firm ball stage. The mixture should boil at moderate, steady rate over the entire surface. Reaching firm ball stage should take 15-20 min.
Remove saucepan from heat. Immediately stir in walnuts, vanilla, and orange peel. Quickly pour caramel into foil lines baking dish. Allow to cool thoroughly. I put mine in the fridge for a while.
When caramel is firm, cut caramels into bite size squares. Makes about 3 pounds...60-80 pieces depending on how big you cut them.
I melt dark chocolate chips and dip the caramels. It is easiest to use two skewers to hold the candy so that you don't leave finger marks. A touch of sea salt on top adds a yummy salty taste to all this sweetness.
*To test firm ball stage: drop a few drops of caramel mixture into cold water. Shape the drops of caramel into a ball. When the caramel is removed from water, it will be firm enough to hold its shape, but should quickly flatten at room temperature.
Wrap and store the caramels for up to 3 weeks in a cool, dry place or up to 9 months in the freezer. These make great gifts!