Aunt Helen’s Caramels

On-the-soft-side caramels sprinkled with pecans and individually wrapped with loving care at the kitchen table in our cherished childhood memories.

3 cups sugar
2 cups heavy cream, divided
1 3/4 cup light corn syrup
2 sticks (1/2 pound) butter
1/2 cups pecans or walnuts, finely chopped
Waxed paper, cut into squares for wrapping finished candies

Butter one 9 by 13-inch pan and one 8-inch square pan. Add 1 cup cream to sugar, corn syrup and butter in heavy saucepan. Bring to slow rolling boil over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture reaches soft-ball stage (240 degrees on candy thermometer). Slowly add remaining 1 cup heavy cream, so mixture remains at slow rolling boil. Temperature will drop a bit. Continue cooking, stirring gently, until mixture returns to soft-ball stage temperature for soft and chewy caramels. For slightly harder caramels, bring to firm-ball stage (250 degrees). Pour into buttered pans. Sprinkle chopped nuts over top, pressing gently into caramel. Cool mixture until surface feels set to the touch, about 30 minutes, before turning out of pan. Caramels should be firm, yet pliable. Using kitchen scissors, cut caramel into strips lengthwise and then into bite-size pieces. Wrap in wax paper.

TIP: Try starting with half a batch, which makes a whole bowl full of candy.