How to Make Caramel Christmas Trees
Every year at Christmas, my family makes caramels. It's a tradition. We all have the family recipe that is over 1 hundred years old. It was my mother's great aunt who first used the recipe so many years ago! Every year everyone in the family makes the caramels now. We wouldn't even THINK of not making them.
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup light Karo syrup
1 cup sugar
1 stick of butter
1 teaspoon of vanilla flavoring (optional)
Put all in a medium sized pan and bring to soft ball stage (235 degrees) on a candy thermometer. Keep the heat low while you bring the candy up to a soft boil, stirring constantly. At this point you can put in a teaspoon of vanilla flavoring (we don't do that and it tastes fabulous but that's the original recipe).
I can't stress enough that you have to stir it continuously. After about 10 minutes the mixture will start to turn a light tan and then eventually to the caramel color. If you don't have a candy thermometer, you can but a teaspoon of the mixture in a glass of ice water and if it's done it will form a ball. It's really easy if you have the candy thermometer, though.
Then I pour the whole mixture onto a cookie sheet (with sides) and let it cool. I sometimes put the cookie sheet in the freezer for 5 minutes to cool it off enough to cut up into little squares and wrap in little squares of waxed paper.
This time, I wanted something special so I cut the candy up into little Christmas tree shapes. This was way more fun. I don't have pictures... sometimes I get into a craft or food fun like this and forget to take the pictures as I do it. I cut a row straight across the cookie sheet and then cut the tree shapes along the row. Then I did the second row, etc. I added a few sprinkles of green (and clear but I think salt would look and taste great) a few candy bobbles and poked a pretzel stick to act like the tree trunk!
They don't need to be perfect, I don't think. You can get perfect from the store.
My sister covers pretzel rods with the caramel and then covers the whole thing with chocolate. I can tell you they are the best pretzel rods I ever ate! Love them. She told me how many she makes with 1 recipe of caramels... it's like 40 .. so she has plenty to give away to her large, extended family, too.
I cut a small piece of wax paper to wrap the little "trees" in.
Perfectly wrapped to put in with a plate of cookies to friends and family...
If you don't want to make caramels to make these little trees, I don't see why you couldn't buy caramels and melt them and pour the heated caramel mixture into a cookie pan. When they are cool, cut them up like little trees and decorate them the same way I did. There's always an easy way to make these fun foods. Many times, I take the easy way, but not with the caramels since I've been making them since I was a teenager.
Best wishes for a wonderful Christmas!
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