Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Grandma's Vanilla Nut Caramel Recipe and Dipping Chocolates

I remember when I was little I really knew it was Christmas time when Grandma made her special chocolates.  She makes them every year and they are my absolute favorite!
The past few years I've been able to dip with my Grandma, but this year with our crazy schedule I had to find some time at my parent's home.  Luckily I had the sweetest little helper!
Through the years I've picked up just a few tips and tricks from Gram.  She used to work in a chocolate shop back in the day--wouldn't that be a dream--and she passed some knowledge on to me!  We are no chocolatiers, but I thought I could share some of her tips to help if you are interested.
She always makes caramel which is always delicious!  I'll share her recipe below.  She also does peanuts, coconut and any other miscellaneous things we can think of.  We love pretzels so these pretzel Snaps were a hit!  

Grandma Ruth's Chocolate Dipping Tips:
-Always use Peter's Milk Chocolate Block, she get's hers from Gygi's in SLC, UT we even eat little pieces of this as is.  Such amazing chocolate!
-She likes to use Spanish peanuts.  She puts a towel on the counter, puts some peanuts on top and another towel on top and rubs them together to take of the skin.  After you sift through to get just the nuts they'll be ready for dipping. *I used cocktail peanuts for the first time and they were so good!
-My Grandma always cooked her caramel to a soft ball stage.  When you bite into the caramel its perfectly gooey!
-Make sure to temper your chocolate.  She uses a double boiler to melt her chocolate.  Be careful to not let any water get into the chocolate.  After chocolate it melted throw a couple big pieces in to cool it down.  After that melts cool it down some more on your dipping area to make sure it won't turn white or grainy. 
-Make sure there is enough chocolate to cover but not too much.  You want to avoid too much chocolate dripping of the spoon or making a puddle under your pieces (this takes a lot of practice), if you get the hang of it you'll be able to make the perfect bite!
-Use 2 spoons.  You may not think you need them but they help so much.
Alright lets get into it!  I found these adorable tins at the dollar store.  So perfect and not too big.  Great for neighbor and family gifts. 

Chop up your chocolate block so it is ready for melting.  Even though you want to do small batches its easier to have it all chopped and ready. 

My cute little helper Emma said we were "chefs with customers" that had a chocolate shop. 
She is so funny!!

Some of our cute "customers" my Mom and Adam.

She really got into it!

And had to taste her spoon after every caramel she dipped. 
So we designated a plate and spoons just for her. :)

My face after realizing she just licked her spoon. haha

I think the finished product turned out pretty well and I only had to call Grandma once!

This was my first time attempting my Grandma's caramel recipe, it was so fun to make with Dallin a couple days before Emma and I dipped.
Grandma's Vanilla Nut Caramels
2 C. sugar
2 C. light corn syrup
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 C. butter
2 C. canned milk (She uses Carnation Evaporated)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 C. nuts, coarsely chopped (optional)
Grease well a 9-inch square pan.  Heat milk and butter together till butter melts.  In a 3-quart saucepan mix sugar, syrup , salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Cook to a soft ball stage (230 degrees).  Stir in milk mixture gradually so it will not stop boiling.  Cook at high heat stirring constantly until candy reaches soft ball stage again.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and nuts.  Pour into greased pan without scraping sides.  Cool thoroughly, then cut into squares and wrap individually in waxed paper or can use for dipping chocolates.  Makes 2 pounds.   
We love trying new techniques and learning new tips so if you have some chocolate or candy making ideas send them my way! 

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