A perfectly sweet treat that's much healthier than its corn-syrup counter part. Using fresh vanilla, cream and butter, these honey caramels are rich with ingredients from the homestead.
Get set up before you begin cooking the caramels. Generously butter an 11x9 baking dish. You can use a smaller dish if you'd like thicker caramels. Don't skimp on butter or you'll have a hard time getting the caramels out.
Combine the honey and cream in a medium, heavy saucepan. Make it your best pan because you need even temperature distribution when heating any kind of sugar. Heat to around firm ball stage on a candy thermometer - 245F/118C. Make sure your candy thermometer is working well and accurate. Stir this mixture often as it heats to prevent scorching. If you want a much firmer caramel, heat to hard ball stage of 255F/124C. We prefer caramels softer to prevent stress on our teeth.
Once the mixture reaches temperature, remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the vanilla (if you need it) and butter until thoroughly mixed.
Pour mixture into the greased pan and allow to cool on the counter or in the fridge/freezer. In the winter I can let my pan cool on the counter and expect the caramel to be firm enough to cut in about 40 minutes, give or take. In the summer, with my heat and humidity, they'd never set up! To cool quicker, you can place your pan in the freezer for about a half hour and then cut the caramels into squares.
Once cut you can wrap the individual caramels in wax or parchment paper trimmed to fit. I usually keep these refrigerated until we give them away or eat them so they hold their shape well.
See below for notes on vanilla honey, should you care to make some. Otherwise, using regular honey and vanilla extract will be tasty, too.
We use raw cream, but you can also use store bought cream.