The holidays are a time for family fun, so when my daughter was recently home for Thanksgiving we decided that it was time for another post that compares a hundred-year-old recipe with a modern one. This year we decided to make Caramels.
I made a Caramel recipe from a hundred-year-old magazine that listed nuts, preferably black walnuts, as an ingredient. My daughter made a Caramel recipe that did not call for nuts from Sally’s Baking Addiction called Sea Salt Vanilla Caramels.
My recipe called for brown sugar. The modern recipe used three sweets: brown sugar, white sugar, and light corn syrup. It included a note which said that corn syrup is “a controversial ingredient, for sure, but an imperative one for making candy as it prevents crystallization and keeps the caramels smooth as silk.”
The Verdict: The two candies were both good, but very different from each other.
The modern recipe was delectable. The Sea Salt Vanilla Caramels were smooth and creamy, and melted in my mouth. If you want a great Caramel recipe, I strongly recommend clicking on the link and going to Sally’s website for her recipe.
On the other hand, the hundred-year-old Caramel recipe made a candy that barely seemed like a caramel. It tasted more like a praline. If, by chance, you are looking for a delightful walnut praline recipe, the old recipe is the recipe for you.
The hundred-year-old recipe included a warning, “These directions must be followed to the letter.” I tried my best to follow them to the letter, but apparently failed since I think that the caramel may have partially “crystalized” (or perhaps a caramel a hundred-years-ago was different from a modern caramel).
Here’s the hundred-year-old recipe:
Here’s my version of the hundred-year-old recipe updated for modern cooks. (I made half of the original recipe.)
1 pound light-brown sugar (2 cups, packed)
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup milk
1 cup chopped nuts, preferably black walnuts
Prepare a 8 inch by 8 inch square pan by lining it with foil, and then buttering the foil. Set aside.
Put the brown sugar, butter, and milk in a large, heavy saucepan. Using medium heat, bring to a boil while stirring. Reduce heat so that there is a slow rolling boil. Continue to stir until the mixture reaches the firm ball stage (245 – 248° F.). This can also be tested by dropping a small amount of the hot mixture into ice-cold water. It is done when a caramel-textured ball is formed. Add nuts before removing from the heat. Remove spoon from mixture while still boiling to prevent crystallization.
Quickly pour into the prepared pan. Scrape what remains into another dish. When cool turn onto a cookie sheet or board. Cut into bite-sized pieces. If desired, wrap caramels in waxed paper.