Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Goodies

Christmas and all that it entails is my favorite holiday of the year. Since graduating and moving away from home, I think that coming home for Christmas each year is the one thing I look forward to all the year long. My mom and I plot and plan what goodies we're going to make and give away, and which we're going to just keep for ourselves! Every year we bake up tons of goodies and plate them up for neighbors, church friends, and pretty much anyone who asks for them. We started in on the baking tonight, and this is the product of that!

My mother's usually spotless counter covered in gadgets and flour...Or is the powdered sugar?

Mexican Wedding cookies, about to go into the oven (after being put on a cookie sheet, of course!)

And...Mexican Wedding cookies, hot out of the oven!

My mom's famed "Sienna Bread" rising and waiting their turns in the oven

The caramel that yours truly made, by herself and from SCRATCH!
I'm not known for my willpower when it comes to food, but it positively MELTS under the spell of home made caramel! Usually we'll wrap a bit of marshmallow with the caramel and stick it in a square of wax paper, but I just wanted plain old caramels this year!
This was a new recipe, and a little odd, but it was fun to make! I got it from the December/January edition of Country Living, and you can also find the recipe at

Vanilla Caramels
Makes: 60 pieces
Working time: 45 minutes
Total time: 1 1/2 hours

Vegetable oil, for greasing (I'm lazy, I used Pam)
1 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup light corn syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Line an 9 inch square pan with foil and generously brush with vegetable oil. Set aside. In a medium saucepan over high heat, cook sugar, without stirring, until it begins to melt and bubble. Using a metal spoon, stir until completely melted, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and add cream (sugar will seize into a solid mass). Add butter and corn syrup. Fit a candy thermometer to saucepan, return to stove top and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until mixture liquefies, about 30 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and cook until caramel mixture reaches 238 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove pan from heat; stir in vanilla extract. Carefully pour hot caramel into prepared pan. Using a spatula coated in vegetable oil, smooth any bubbles on surface. Cool caramel until firm but still lightly warm, about 35 minutes. Life caramel from pan and peel away foil. Place on an oiled cutting board and cut into 1 inch squares, using an oiled knife.

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