Chocolate Caramels (1877) ★★★★
I haven't done a candy recipe here in a while, and I've been thinking about making caramels recently, so I thought this recipe for Chocolate Caramels would be a good pick.
I found this recipe in The Home Cook Book, which is Canada's first community cookbook. That is, it was written and published as part of a fundraising initiative for the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Like many community cookbooks (which were already being published south of the border since at least 1864), this one listed the names of contributors with some recipes, another new concept for Canada (although, to be fair, Catharine Parr Strickland Traill credited some other women for the recipes in her famous Female Emigrant's Guide, published 1854). I also noted the distinct instruction to use Baker's chocolate. I love seeing something like this, which serves as evidence of how ingrained in our society some brands really are. Its amazing that I can still find Baker's chocolate in the store today, and its even more amazing that Baker's chocolate has maintained its place on pantry shelves. In fact, Baker's is probably one of the oldest brand names in North America, dating back to 1764!
Now, this recipe calls specifically for New Orleans molasses, which the internet tells me is "a molasses that is comparatively light in color and rich in sugar." If you search for images, Brer Rabbit brand shows up quite a lot, so that seems to be the main brand. I had regular molasses already in my cupboard and I don't even know where I'd get New Orleans molasses, so sorry to authenticity, but I used regular instead.
One cup of fine granulated sugar, one cup of New
Orleans molasses, one-fourth cup of milk, a piece of
butter the size of an egg, one cup of chocolate after it is
cut up, if made single quantity; if doubled, it is as well
not to put the chocolate in till about done, and then the
same quantity of the recipe will suffice, as it retains the
flavour if not cooked as much. Boil till it will stiffen in
water; pout into flat buttered pans to the thickness of
half an inch. Use Baker's chocolate.
The Verdict:I was a bit worried about these for two reasons: firstly, the mixture is so dark that you can't see if you've burned it and secondly, the molasses I used seemed very strong. Even when I was tasting it while it was cooking it seems very strong. So I was pretty surprised when I tasted these and they were really good and quite chocolately! I think they really mellowed out when they cooled, especially after I put them in the fridge. I had to put my candy in the fridge because I just slightly undercooked it, so they were still very soft even after hours on the counter. The texture was amazingly smooth and silky; these just melt in your mouth. The caramels are a little rich, though. I give this recipe four stars.
Yield: 63 caramels
Modernized Recipe:(Adapted from The Home Cook Book)
1 cup SUGAR
1 cup NEW ORLEANS MOLASSES
1/4 cup MILK
1/4 cup BUTTER
1 cup BAKER'S CHOCOLATE, chopped
1. Butter a cookie sheet that has a rim . Mix all ingredients into a large pot. Simmer it until the mixture reaches firm ball stage, 245 - 250F.
2. Pour the candy onto the buttered cookie sheet to 1/2 inch thickness. Do not scrape the pot. Let cool overnight and then cut into pieces.
"Baker's Chocolate (brand)." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 15 Aug. 2013. Web. 18 Aug. 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baker's_Chocolate_(brand)>.
Bower, Anne. Recipes for Reading: Community Cookbooks, Stories, Histories. Amherst: University of Massachusetts, 1997. Print.
Driver, Elizabeth. Culinary Landmarks: A Bibliography of Canadian Cookbooks, 1825-1949. Toronto: University of Toronto, 2008. Print.