National chocolate caramel day
March 19th, 2013
09:30 AM ET
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While you're frying up some eggs and bacon, we're cooking up something else: a way to celebrate today's food holiday.

It's a sticky situation. We'll deal. March 19 is National Chocolate Caramel Day.

Caramels are soft, chewy, velvety bites of heaven. When they're combined with chocolate, they become a taste sensation second to none.

Luckily , making them at home isn’t as daunting as you’d think. Yes, there’s some equipment involved, and yes, there should always be an adult in the room, but the rest is easy.

First you need to decide if you want to make chocolate caramels, or caramels covered in chocolate (the former saves a step meaning you can get to eating the candies quicker).

When it comes to making candy, there are a few things you need to know. First, sugar behaves differently when heated to different temperatures. For example, heat sugar syrup to between 235 and 240 degrees Fahrenheit and you’ve got soft-ball stage candy. At this stage, the candy can be made into fudge or pralines. Heat it further to between 300 and 310 F and you’ve got hard-crack stage candy that’s perfect for brittles or lollipops.

Somewhere in the middle is the caramel, or firm-ball stage. When you heat sugar syrup to between 245 and 250 F you’ll get a candy that’s both malleable and firm. Your trusty candy thermometer will tell you when your syrup is at the right temperature. And no, this isn’t the same one you use to see if you have a fever or check the doneness of your tenderloin.

To make actual caramel, you have to add cream and butter, and vanilla if you'd like. In most caramel recipes, the cream is added over heat, while the rest of the ingredients are added off the heat.

When you add your cream, the mixture will bubble up the sides of your pot. This is normal, and why it’s important for kids to have an adult present. Once it's off the heat, whisk in butter and chopped chocolate until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Pour it into a greased baking dish and cut it into squares once it's cool. And there you go – chocolate caramels.

Wrap them individually in small pieces of wax or parchment paper and see how long they last. Go ahead, try to eat just one.

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Filed under: Breakfast Buffet • Food Holidays • News

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