a Christmas tradition

I want to share with y’all a Christmas tradition we have around here.

Well, I guess not so much a tradition in the literal sense. Because some years I’m just too darned lazy busy to make it.

But every time I do make this confectionery delight, I am so. stinkin’. glad. I did.

Meet Ellie’s Caramels. So named for the kindly older lady that introduced me to these hip-packin’-melt-in-your-mouth bites of heaven.

Actually, first meet the innards of Ellie’s Caramels.

With a cast of characters this small and unassuming, I find this recipe delightfully manageable.

And it’s even likely that I have all the ingredients on hand.


And, with directions like “add all ingredients except vanilla to pan and stir”, well… I can do this!

And if I can do it, you can do it.

Even Poppy can do it. In fact, much of it she was doing. With her brother’s iTouch in one hand.

Honestly, the most difficult part is the stirring.

And the waiting.

And *sigh* the sampling.

And if you’re like me, and like to multi-task, you’re out of luck. At least for the 15 minutes or so of cooking time this requires.

Gotta keep two eyes and at least one hand on the wheel at all times.

But eventually you get there: soft-ball stage (just drop a spoonful into a cold glass of water and if it’s the consistency you like, then you’re good!)

And you’re ready to pour.

This needs at least a couple three to four hours to cool enough to cut.

So I’ve learned to make these at night, so as not to torture myself. Or my kids.

Or burn the skin right off the roof of my mouth.

Then, when they’re cool, cut them – smaller is better for this, each little square packs a punch! – and serve ’em up.

We put this batch into decorative tins for the neighbors. The best I could buy at the Dollar Store. But I think it works.

And once one of these bad boys makes it past their lips and gums, I’m pretty sure they’re going to fall in love. With the caramels. And with us.

And forgive us for all the chaos that comes with being the next door neighbor of a family this size.

Ellie’s Caramels

1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup light Karo Syrup
1/2 pound butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 t. vanilla

Add all ingredients except vanilla into large pot over medium heat. When mixture reaches soft-ball stage, pull off heat. Mix in vanilla and pour into buttered 9″ x 13″ pan. Then wait.

Cut into squares when you can’t stand it any longer and enjoy.



  1. Oh Goodness Gracious. Those look and sound divine. I may want to lick the computer screen .

  2. YUM!!!

  3. Hey, those don’t sound a BIT scary. I think I will actually try this because, like you, when a recipe has stuff you actually have on hand, IT ROCKS!! :) Merry Christmas!!

  4. You takin’ lessons from PW?? I thought I was on HER site for a second, until I saw sweet Poppy’s face! 😉

    Looks delish!! ENJOY!!!

  5. YUM!!!! I need to try these! :)

  6. Judy Deaton says:

    Hey these sound almost exactly like the ones we make……in the MICROWAVE!!! My recipe calls for all brown sugar, and adds 1/8 tsp. salt. I melt the butter, then stir the rest of the ingredients in. Put in a large micro safe bowl, cook on high for ten minutes………check in cold water and add a minute or two as seems necessary. SO SO easy and they are as you say…..DELICIOUS! I just made some too:) Now i have to hide them to keep them around till the parties. I add vanilla after wards too. Let them sit and cool for about 10 min after adding vanilla, then pour into a greased pan.

  7. for sure adding these to my candy/cookie/all things dipped in chocolate day with the kiddos on Friday!

  8. THANK YOU for attaching the recipe! I would have been really bummed if you hadn’t. And your girl is absolutely BEAUTIFUL!!!!!

  9. JUst printed the recipe off and I am about to go make them!! Thanks for sharing.

  10. Oh, I am so in!! I just need the sweetened condensed milk! I was craving these this fall and never found a recipe that screamed, “come to me!” like Ellie’s Carmels. :)

    Merry Christmas!

  11. Oh my….I can’t successfully bake anything but I think I can do that!!! I can almost taste them!

  12. Those look delicious! How about shipping some to MN? :) This has just made it to my never ending to do list before Christmas. As a matter of fact I think I will go make them right now! I can’t wait to taste test them. I’ll probably burn the roof of my mouth as well. :) Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  13. Oh my goodness, YUM!!!!! Thanks for sharing Stef!

  14. If you pour melted chocolate over the top…then go to bed…ummm there might not be any in the pan when you get up in the morning.

  15. Thank you. My kind of recipe!

  16. Genius! They look fabulous!

  17. We make caramel every year – usually two double batchs – but 15 minutes? Ours are a 2-3 hour ordeal…and worth every second!! We use a candy thermometer however (target temp is ABOUT 245 (f for any non-US readers) – and if you go too high – well – you have a bunch of toffee for use on your icecream!! The difference is the milk – ours uses “half and half” – but with three lactose intolerants in the family – you can treat the half and half with a liquid lactose enzyme the night before – and then they can eat them all they want!!

    Just a warning – cooking this isn’t for young ones – if you splash any of that on your hand when cooking or pouring the burn can be a good one…and your instinct is to touch it or rub it – which just makes a bad thing worse by spreading the hot goo!

    But all that said – it’s well worth the risk!!

    hugs – aus and co.

  18. Oh my word!!! YUM!! I wish I was your neighbor!!!!

    Happy Last Day of “Fill Their Stockings!!’


  19. Those look delicious. I went out and bought the ingredients, but mne w on’t get firm enough to cut. They have been sitting for several hours. They also aren’t as dark as yours. hmmmmm….any suggestions?

  20. Just made a batch tonight. Went to scrape some off the spoon and blistered my finger, but these are so worth it! I can’t wait for them to cool to cut them! Thanks for the recipe!

  21. Adoptive Parent says:

    My husband lost his job recently, and I was at a loss as to what to give for teacher gifts. We made a batch of these tonight, and some fudge. WOW- delicious! These caramels were superior to the fudge. They are really, really yummy! My daughter had a ball dumping everything into the pot. Thanks for the recipe!!

  22. thank you for sharing…just made some and they are amazingly delicious! we sprinkled a little smoked sea salt on top for that added salty-sweet combo. I might just eat them all myself :)

  23. Thanks! Made them yesterday and we’re delivering them to our friends and neighbors today :) Happy Holiday!

  24. Oh, I am immensely proud of you for posting a recipe with pictures!!! Great job. Plus, you said “bonus.” I knew I’d rub off on you eventually. :)
    These looks YUMMY!!!!!! I shall make them.
    Love you,

  25. OMG, I made these Monday and they are sooooooooooooooo good….only 1 problem, I couldn’t cut the suckers they were set up so hard in the plate. I finally got frustrated and left them sit for a while then came back and found that if you bring them back up to room temp you can cut them….duh :) *Maybe I won’t cook them as long next time so they wont get so hard.

  26. yummmmm. My caramel lovin’ family will need to try these soon.

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