Friday, December 15, 2006

I see the light

The light at the end of the tunnel, that is. Here is my final piece of holiday knitting.

It's a London Beanie. This is the replacement for my nephew's failed Star Wars hat. I like it, although Lamb's Pride Superwash is quite a hairy yarn. It's almost like knitting with alpaca.

That's the final holiday knitting pile (minus one Clapotis that has already left the building). It isn't as large as I had planned it to be, but reasonably respectable. Next year will be bigger and better! Famous last words...

And now for some Friday Eye Candy, literally.

Homemade caramels! (I cut and wrapped almost 200 of them last night—very traumatizing). These don't last long in my house. Anyone want the recipe? Well, you're getting it anyway:

Creamy Caramels
2 cups sugar
2 cups half & half
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon liquid lecithin (optional)

*Do not omit the salt. It's essential for the flavor of the caramels. I actually add a heaping half teaspoon.

1. Line an 8" x 8" baking dish with parchment paper or nonstick foil. If no paper or foil is available, butter the dish liberally.

2. Combine sugar, corn syrup, butter, salt, lecithin, and 1 cup of the half & half in a heavy saucepan. The mixture will bubble up considerably during cooking, so make sure the pan is large enough. (I use a 5 quart saucepan.)

3. Cook over medium heat until mixture boils, stirring frequently. Add the remaining cup of half & half, and turn the heat down to medium-low.

4. Cook at medium-low, stirring occasionally, until mixture reaches 247-248°F on a candy thermometer. Resist the urge to turn the heat up. The more slowly the mixture cooks, the darker and richer the caramels will be. (It takes about 45 minutes to reach the correct temperature on my stove.)

5. Remove pan from heat and stir in the vanilla. Immediately pour mixture into prepared baking dish.

6. Allow to cool completely, preferably overnight. Cut into 1 inch squares and wrap in wax paper.

Yield. 64 candies. Enjoy!


At 12/15/06, 8:56 PM, Blogger miss88keys said...

THANK YOU! Caramels are my favorite & I've always wanted a good recipe for them. By the way, what is liquid lecithin? Do the grocery stores carry it?

At 12/15/06, 11:46 PM, Anonymous Mintyfresh said...

salt and caramel is a divine combination; one needs the other. 200, though!? that's incredible.

Congrats on finishing your holiday knitting!

At 12/16/06, 9:34 AM, Blogger Micki said...

Liquid lecithin is an emulsifier--it helps fat and water get along with each other. The caramels will still turn out great if you don't use it.

Lecithin is sometimes difficult to find, but any health food store should carry it. Or you can do what I sometimes do: buy lecithin capsules from the pharmacy (it'll be with the vitamins). Poke a hole in the capsule and squeeze out the lecithin.

At 12/16/06, 10:08 AM, Anonymous Jodi said...

That's some serious holiday knitting! Everything looks beautiful. You have a great eye for color. I just knit up a London Beanie, too, and next time I'm going to move the stripes down closer to the ribbing.

Thanks for the recipe. My husband's a huge caramel fan, so we'll have to give it a try!


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