Make these tasty and chewy caramels. They are a festive treat that takes on a homespun flavor with the addition of Sorghum.
I really enjoy our homemade sorghum. I am not, however, a big fan of eating it straight out of the jar. One year during our sorghum making when I was a kid, probably 10 or 12 years old, I ate way too much. The foamy cooked sorghum was just so sweet and yummy, who knew you could eat too much? I do love it cooked with other foods, though. Gingersnaps and Oatmeal bread are a couple of my favorites, but these sorghum caramels takes the prize. They are so yummy, and the sorghum gives them a hearty flavor that combines nicely with nuts. I like using english walnuts, but pecans or black walnuts work very well. This recipe calls for ½ cup of nuts, but I use at least one cup. It's all personal preference, and even omitting the nuts is fine as well. Toast the nuts in a warm oven (not hotter than 350 degrees) for 10-15 minutes. Do not over-toast them, though, or the nuts can take on a burnt flavor.
I got this recipe last year from a cookbook written by some sorghum makers who run a demonstration at Silver Dollar City. We live within two hours drive of Branson, Missouri where Silver Dollar City is. It is an amusement park that features old country ways and skills. Last year a friend that attended our sorghum making visited Silver Dollar City and picked up this little sorghum cookbook for me. The sorghum caramel sounded so yummy I had to give it a try. I have become addicted!
Sorghum Caramels (Doris Shrock)
Combine sugar, syrup, sorghum, butter and cream in a heavy kettle; bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, to dissolve sugar. Cook to firm ball stage (245 degrees). Add chopped nuts. Pour into a well-buttered pan. When cool, cut into squares and wrap in wax paper. These are Delicious.
An 8” x 8” pan works well, but I use my 7” x 11” pan that makes them a little thicker. If a thermometer is not available, using the cold water test works well. Fill a mug with cold water and pour in a spoonful of the cooking candy into it. If the caramel can be made into a ball (using your fingers) that is firm, but pliable and doesn't flatten out when pulled out of the water the caramel is done. This takes about 10 minutes cooking time (after it has started boiling). The caramel can be cut into pieces and wrapped, or dipped into chocolate. Dipping into chocolate helps them not to melt into puddles if they get a little warm. Keeping them in an airtight container will help them stay fresh longer, and keeping them in the refrigerator keeps them fresh for at least a couple of months.
photo credit: Sherry Tucker; family friend, Jason, eating caramel with Caleb.