Make candy, make a memory

Candymaking at Christmastime has long been a tradition in many of our homes.

If you’ve yet to try your hand, we have three dandy recipes to start you off. If you’re already a seasoned candymaker, the same threesome might make a nice addition to your usual repertoire.

We have sea salt caramels, classic peanut brittle and peanut butter fudge to try, all courtesy of the folks at Karo syrup. You will need a candy thermometer for the first two, but not the third: It’s a fast-fix, easy, stir-together confection.

Sea salt caramels

1 1/2cups light or dark corn syrup

2cups heavy or regular whipping cream, divided

1cup milk

1cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon fine grind sea salt

1tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon coarse grind sea salt

Line an 8- or 9-inch square pan with foil (leave a 1-inch overhang on 2 sides) and spray with cooking spray.

In a 4-quart saucepan, combine corn syrup, 1 cup of the cream, milk, sugar and fine sea salt; bring to boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking (at a low boil) and stirring occasionally until temperature on candy thermometer reaches 234 degrees or a small amount of mixture dropped into very cold water forms a soft ball that flattens on removal. This will take about 40 minutes.

Gradually add the remaining 1 cup cream in a thin steady stream, stirring constantly. Continue cooking over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until temperature on candy thermometer reaches 244 degrees or small amount dropped into very cold water forms a firm ball that does not flatten on removal. This will take about 30 minutes. Remove from heat.

Stir in vanilla. Pour into prepared pan. (DO NOT scrape side of saucepan.) Place on wire rack and cool 1 hour. Sprinkle top evenly with coarse grind sea salt. Lift cooled candy from pan using foil. Cut into 1-inch squares. If desired, wrap individually in waxed paper or plastic wrap.

Makes 2 pounds.

Classic peanut brittle

1cup light or dark corn syrup

1cup sugar

1/4 cup water

2tablespoons butter or margarine

11/2cups roasted, lightly salted peanuts

1teaspoon baking soda

Spray a 10-by-15-inch rimmed cookie sheet and metal spatula with cooking spray; set aside.

In a heavy 3-quart saucepan, combine corn syrup, water and butter or margarine. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a boil. Cook without stirring until temperature reaches 280 degrees on a candy thermometer or small amount of mixture dropped into very cold water separates into threads which are hard but not brittle.

Gradually stir in peanuts; continue cooking, stirring frequently, until temperature reaches 300 degrees or a small amount dropped into very cold water separates into threads which are hard and brittle. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda. Immediately pour mixture onto cookie sheet. With metal spatula, spread mixture evenly. Cool and break into pieces.

Peanut butter fudge

1/4 cup light or dark corn syrup

1/4 cup butter or margarine

1jar (18 ounces) creamy peanut butter (2 cups)

1 1/4cups powdered sugar

1teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a 2-quart saucepan, combine corn syrup and butter or margarine. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until butter melts. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter. Cook and stir over low heat until smooth. Remove from heat and add the powdered sugar and vanilla; beat until smooth with a wooden spoon, and spread in a greased 8-inch square baking pan. Refrigerate 2 hours or until firm. Cut into 1-inch squares.

Makes 64 pieces.

Note: If desired, pan can be lined with aluminum foil and coated with cooking spray. When fudge is firm, lift out foil for easy cutting.

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