It was officially Christmas in July a few days ago, and the weather must have gotten the memo, because it was in the 60s and, dare I say it, slightly nippy, here in New York. Naturally, I made a whole slew of festive treats, including these addictive caramels. Thank goodness I had a leftover box of candy canes from last December.
Candy Cane Caramels
Makes roughly 50
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 10 candy canes
- 1 cup granulated white sugar
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- To make the candy cane infused cream: The night before making the caramels, pour heavy cream into a glass container and combine with candy canes, breaking the candies into pieces if necessary. Store in refrigerator overnight. The candy canes will melt overnight. Alternatively, if you’re short on time: combine heavy cream and candy canes in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat until cream comes to a boil and candy canes are melted.
- Grease a 9×9″ baking dish with butter or cooking spray and set aside.
- If heavy cream is still cold, bring to a boil in a large saucepan. Combine heated cream with sugars, salt, and vanilla, and cook over medium high heat until sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally.
- Clip a candy thermometer to the edge and pop a lid over the top. Cook over medium-high heat until the thermometer registers 240F, the firm ball stage. Do not stir.
- Once mixture reaches 245F, pour in vanilla and stir with a spatula. Pour mixture into baking dish and let cool until firm – minimum of 4 hours.
- Lift caramel out of baking dish (should remain in one smooth sheet) and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into pieces with sharp knife.
- Wrap with wax paper and store at room temperature.
These candy cane caramels are really the best of both worlds – they have a subtle peppermint flavor from the candy canes but keep the chewy consistency of caramels. The peppermint is just subtle enough that it’s not overwhelming – it hits you right at the end and leaves you with that fresh minty taste.
It’s a shame that candy canes aren’t sold year-round – I want to make another batch of these!
Along with the caramels, I also made some decorated sugar cookies – snowflakes and polar bears! It may or may not have taken me 4 hours to pipe snowflakes onto 50 cookies. I don’t have very steady hands…
Perhaps I should just stick to caramels from now on.