I discovered why when you google “homemade caramels: Giverslog’s failproof caramel recipe comes up! It really did turn out to be pretty failproof (for a newbie that has never made them in my life I was super excited that they came out so good, everyone has been complimenting my caramel making skills for days, which I owe to Goverslog). Please visit her blog and give her the awesome attention she deserves for making my candy making experience a success.
My fear of making a hot molten sugary disaster caused me to overprepare a bit, but after I did it the first time, by 4 batches later I was still using my same technique. The first thing I did was gather all of my ingredients and measured them out, and placed them next to the pan.
I melted the butter on low heat stirring the whole time.
After the butter was melted I added the pre-measured brown sugar a few spoonfuls at a time in the center of the pan. While I was adding the sugar I turned the heat up to medium low.
I added the sweetened condensed milk and the Karo syrup stirring constantly on medium low heat.
I followed the directions on slowly turning up the heat. I stirred constantly and gradually raised the heat to medium high and got the caramel to a boil. I attached the thermometer and gradually turned the heat back down to medium keeping the caramel at a boil.
Giverslog suggests that you check your thermometer in boiling water, that test had my thermometer showing a 10 degree difference, but the marks on the thermometer for soft ball and hard ball turned out to be about right (I live at a very high elevation, which I guess really messes all of that up). What I ended up doing was testing the homemade caramel regularly in a bowl of cold water because I was downright nervous about messing it up.
Once I got the caramel to a good consistency between the soft ball and hard ball stage I added the vanilla and poured it into a buttered dish (I didn’t have contact paper, so I opted for the buttered route, nothing got stuck so it worked great). I covered the caramel in chopped almonds (for this batch I opted to have the almonds on the outside rather than mixed in, I also did a few batches with almonds mixed in).
I let the caramel sit for a couple of hours and then pulled it out of the pan and placed on top of wax paper on a cutting board and let it sit covered with more wax paper overnight. I cut it with a pizza cutter and wrapped in wax paper.