Sunday, December 7, 2014

Best Ever Soft Caramels (aka Mrs. Allen's Candy)

I'm transferring this post from my family blog (circa 2010) here for easier look-up and access... for myself (wink) and my family. Britt texted me just the other day to get the recipe and it took me a while to find it on the blog (and Pinterest). No more.

I'll be making my first batch of these today. I can't wait.

I was trying to find the only picture I recall of my Grandma G. making Christmas candy. I can see the picture clearly in my mind... she's wearing purple, and holding a pan of some kind of sweet homemade confection. But this hasn't been my lucky picture-finding-morning (still haven't run across it), and as usual, I don't have much time.

In my search, however, I ran across this picture (circa 1985):
This is a picture of my Aunt Carol's family at the funeral of her husband (Uncle Dick). Grandma G. is on the bottom right, next to Aunt Carol (middle). I am only left to assume that the sweet elderly lady on the left is my Aunt Carol's mother.

What does all that have to do with making Christmas candy? From my recollection, I believe that my Aunt Carol's mother is the famed "Mrs. Allen." In the Goldsberry family, we have been making Mrs. Allen's Candy at Christmastime for as long as I can remember. When I would ask who Mrs. Allen was (we were making HER candy, after all), I would be told that she was Aunt Carol's mom. (Note: this has been confirmed by my cousin.)

I still use the copy of the recipe I made back in high school for a Home Ec class, meticulously typed on a typewriter, laminated years later for preservation.

In the spirit of giving, I thought I would share this family favorite.

(you can call it Best Ever Soft Caramels, if you'd like)

1 (1 lb) pkg brown sugar (2-1/3 cups packed)
Scant cup light corn syrup ("Scant" meaning slightly under 1 cup)
1 can Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk
2 cubes margarine (I use butter)... 2 cubes = 2 sticks = 1 cup = 1/2 lb. (I'll clear that up right now)

Mix and cook in a large, heavy-bottomed pan on medium-high heat until comes to a boil. Turn to low and cook for 12-1/2 minutes, stirring all the time. Pour on buttered pan (9x13) over broken walnuts (walnuts are optional - I love them, but most of my family prefers no nuts). Cool and turn out and cut. We wrap these in waxed paper and keep them in the freezer (That helpful hint is on the back of my original recipe.)

NOTE: This recipe is NOT rocket science. Sometimes my candy turns out a little soft, sometimes a little on the harder side. I once boiled it for the 12-1/2 minutes on med/high heat, which I wouldn't recommend. I've learned that the dark, anodized aluminum pans tend to keep the heat in, so I don't use them when I make this candy because it turns out too hard. It's important to keep the heat low(ish) for the 12-1/2 minutes, however, on my stove, the low is too low, and the candy turns out a little too soft (sounds like the story of the three bears). I've tried using a candy thermometer so it could be more of an exact science (just right), but have since thrown exactness to the wind and make it in the spirit it was originally intended - ease... and delight at the perfect batch (which is about 95% of the time - the odds are in your favor).


Cranberry-Orange Bread

This recipe originally came from here. I, however, did not have Chobani yogurt on hand, so I used Dannon Oikos 0% Fat Plain. Shhhhh.... don't tell.

I could eat this bread all day. Not too sweet, the crunch of nuts, and tanginess of fresh cranberries... yum-o!

The recipe calls for 3/4 c. orange juice. I decided to use some {oldish} cuties (clementines) that were starting to dry up a bit. I'm all for using what you have and trying not to waste. I knew nobody was going to eat those cuties (they hadn't been the yummiest from the get-go, which was disappointing), and figured baking with them was the perfect economical solution. You certainly could use delicious fresh, flavorful oranges, or even orange juice made from concentrate.

I used only the peel from a couple of the better looking cuties (clementines), then supplemented with McCormick dried orange peel.

I just have to say that I was baking at the perfect time of day. I love it when the sunlight shines into the kitchen, and loved how it was reflecting off of my bowl as I was mixing and snapping a few pics.

As I was grabbing a loaf pan, this little baby caught my eye. Remember the old Corningware? With the blue flowers? I inherited this {vintage} dish from my Grandma G, so I fondly thought of her as I baked.

(Can you see Jack lounging in the sunlight by the glass door? He was loving it, too.)


2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup orange juice
1 Tbs. orange zest (or dried orange peel... or a combination)
1-1/2 cups fresh whole cranberries
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and orange zest. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together yogurt, sugar, egg, and orange juice. Stir in the flour mixture, then gently stir in cranberries and walnuts.

Put into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool 10 minutes, then remove from pan to cool. Slice and serve.

Sooooo yummy.