Ever since I can remember we've made Christmas caramels for our neighbors and friends. Up until I moved out, my job was wrapping hundreds of caramels. They were always a lot of effort but we made them anyways because they were the talk of the neighborhood and we'd probably get toilet papered if we didn't hand them out. They are THAT good. We even made our caramels a science fair project one year! We tried using different brands of sweetened condensed milk and had people taste test the different brands to see which was the best. Eagle brand won! Using Imperial butter also makes a big difference in how the finished product tastes so don't leave that one out. And lastly, make sure that you have a flat wooden spatula so that you can scrape the bottom of the pan as you stir. It's easy to burn the caramel. You also need a candy thermometer.
Prepare a 9x13 pan by taking the cube of Imperial butter and
spreading a thin layer around the bottom and sides of the pan.
Melt the butter and stir in brown sugar and corn sugar.
Gradually add sweetened condensed milk while stirring constantly.
Bring it to a boil, stirring constantly. Make sure that you scrape the bottom and the sides of the pan. It is easy to burn it so keep stirring and scraping. Don't ever let it sit. It can take around 20 minutes before it gets to the right temperature so plan accordingly.
Candy thermometers can vary a little. My mom has an old thermometer and the perfect temperature for her caramels is 230 degrees. The perfect temperature on mine is 245 degrees. To help you decide where is perfect for you, have a small bowl of cold water next to you and drizzle a small amount of caramel into it periodically and see how well it balls up and holds shape. You want probably don't want to get to the hard ball marking on the thermometer. I did that once and it cracked when I tried to get it out of the pan. Also be SURE you know how to read your thermometer before you start. I ruined a batch a few days ago because I misread it.
When it's hit the right temperature, remove from heat and add in the vanilla. Stir it in well and pour into greased pan. Once it has cooled completely, cut a thin strip off then end so that you can get the spatula under the caramel to pry it out onto waxed paper. If it's really stuck, try running the bottom of the pan under hot water to help loosen it. Prying it out can often ruin the top of the caramel so take a spatula and press down to help smooth it out.
Using a pizza cutter or a long knife, cut off a row about an inch wide and
cut into smaller pieces. I usually end up with 12-13 pieces per row.
Pull off about 10 strips of waxed paper about 3-4 inches wide. Cut them in half and then cut
the halves in half so you end up with 40 wrappers. You'll probably need to do this twice.
To wrap the caramels, place on the wrapper and roll up. Pinch one end and
give it two full twists being careful not to rip it. Do the same to the other side.
1 cup salted real butter
1 lb. (2 1/4 cups) C&H brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 (15 oz.) can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cube Imperial margarine
Notes / Directions
Use Imperial margarine to butter a 9x9x2 in. pan. Melt real butter in a heavy 3 qt. saucepan. Add sugar and salt; stir thoroughly. Stir in corn syrup; mix well. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly. Cook and stir over medium heat to form ball stage (about 230-250 degrees depending on your thermometer) 12 to 15 minutes. Have a small dish of cold water by you so that you can periodically drizzle a little caramel into it. Ball up the drizzle and try it, making sure that it is not to soft nor to firm. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Pour into buttered pan and let it cool completely. To remove the caramel, run the bottom of the pan under hot water to loosen the caramel. Using a spatula, carefully pry out caramel onto a wooden cutting board (it sticks to plastic). Use a big knife to cut into squares. Wrap in small squares of waxed paper.