1/2 cup butter (not margarine)
1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
1-1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
mixed nuts, optional
1. Begin by melting butter in large heavy pan over medium-low heat. Add brown sugar, corn syrup, and half of cream (3/4 cup). Cook over medium-low heat, stirring gently, until sugar dissolves.
2. Cook, stirring occasionally, until candy thermometer reaches 224°. Add rest of cream gradually. Turn up stove to medium heat and continue to cook. At this point I wash down the insides of the pan with a pastry brush and water to get rid of any sugar crystals (left alone they may cause your caramel to turn to sugar). Don't worry about drops of water getting in the caramel - it will boil off.
3. Just before it reaches the Firm Ball stage (240° or 236° for high altitude), add in vanilla. Allow it to come back to a boil and remove from heat as soon as it reaches the Firm Ball stage **check tips. If you like nuts, add them about 1 minute before the caramel is done - if you add them earlier they will over cook.
4. Immediately pour into a buttered 9x13-inch pan. Allow to cool, use a spatula to remove caramel onto a cutting board, and cut caramel into small squares. Wrap in waxed paper or plastic wrap.
1. Don't stir it when it gets close to the end. In fact, it needs minimal stirring at all!
2. Do not touch or disturb the caramel at all once you've poured it into the 9X13 - wait patiently for it to set up.
3. Although SLC is high altitude, I have found that 236 degrees is too soft. I prefer 240 degrees. Remember that the hotter it gets, the harder the caramel will be. Also, it depends on a lot more than just the temperature...so I would suggest checking your caramel the old fashioned way: drop a tiny bit into ice water and if it forms a ball that is the right consistency you like, it's ready. I like it to form a solid ball but still be soft enough to squish between your fingers.
4. I like to wrap in waxed paper. I rip the paper from the roll in 4 1/2 -5 inch strips then cut those in half. (That's perfect for a piece ~1 inch square) Then roll the piece of caramel and twist ends. Grip the paper from the far edge to twist in, otherwise it will rip.