I was vaguely aware of my mother whipping up her famous caramels every Christmas, at least until they were ready to sample. But I know that certain people, like the postman (namely Jim McMenamin–we lived 4 miles from town, gravel road) and others really looked forward to them during the 1950s and ’60s. I wish I could remember who else she rewarded with them.
When the mixture had been cooked and was just right, she stood for ages at the counter and wrapped each 3/4 inch square of deliciousness into waxed paper which she’d precut into just the right sized wrappers.
But I’ve never made it myself. If I did, I’d certainly use her recipe:
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups white corn syrup
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups half and half
2 teaspoons vanilla
Combine all but the vanilla in a heavy saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring very often, to 255 degrees [on a candy thermometer] or until the mixture forms a firm but not brittle ball in cold water. Add vanilla and turn into buttered pan. Cool, turn uncut on a breadboard & cut into squares and wrap each piece in waxed paper.
Wrapping them meant from side to side, then twisting the ends shut.
On second thought, I think I’ll just enjoy this memory and buy caramels instead.