Since getting my candy/jelly thermometer from Amazon.com recently I have learned a new and entirely dangerous skill: making caramels for Christmas gifts.
I know they are dangerous because:
- Somebody had to scrape out all candy that stuck to the saucepan, right?
- I couldn’t in good conscience give a gift without making sure it tasted OK.
These are much better than OK. They’re incredibly rich, more like buttery toffee than Kraft caramels. I sprinkled sea salt on half of them. Frugal sea salt, from a bottle left behind by a departing tenant back when I still managed the building.
The other ingredients – butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and sweetened condensed milk – were all purchased on sale and with coupons. The pieces were wrapped in wax paper from a box I bought for 50 cents from a dollar-store clearance bin (yes, really).
The total cost was $5.18 for two and a half pounds of candy. I did have to pay for postage – just as I did for my homemade jams – but this is still a pretty cheap gift.
It’s also a special gift. Most people don’t make their own jam or candy and thus are delighted when they receive such things as presents. If they only knew that all I really did was boil a few ingredients for 15 or 20 minutes.
I added two ounces of unsweetened chocolate to the second batch of caramels. The result is exactly like eating chocolate butter. Maybe I should stop cooking future batches before they set, and gift it in half-pint jars. Wouldn’t that be fun to eat on really good bread? Like Nutella without the hazelnuts? (Because hazelnuts are fattening.)
Wool socks and candy
Usually I give homemade jams as holiday gifts. But I was gone pretty much the whole summer and missed the chance to pick, glean or buy local fruits. Thus I decided to send away for a candy thermometer and try my hand at homemade sweets.
Yes, candy thermometers are available in nearby stores but this one was free thanks to Amazon gift cards that I won on Swagbucks – yet another reason you should sign up for that rewards site.
To do so with my referral code (thanks!), go to the Swagbucks widget in the bottom right corner on this page and click on “sign up.” When you’re asked if you have any promotional codes, try this one: RewardsChat10 (case-sensitive). It may or may not give you an extra 100 points right off the bat, for a grand total of 130. I don’t know if the code is still good – it was given to me last week – but it’s worth a shot.
Then use your Swagbucks powers for good. I was able to get several holiday gifts for free and also buy a few things for myself, such as wool socks for my trip to Alaska and also this new toy, the candy thermometer. In the future a whole lot of folks are going to get homemade sweets for the holidays, if only so that I can lick the pan. Nom.
Anybody else here planning to do edible holiday gifts? What kinds?