I just love Christmas traditions. When Tina and I got together 10 years ago she taught me how to make caramels and let me in on a secret family recipe from her Aunt. Tina loved her Aunt's caramels, so much so that she invested in nickel plated square bars to make molds for pouring her own caramel.
I am not sure how it happened but over the course of a few years I was the only one making caramels around here, thousands of them every Christmas. I established my own tradition, starting on Halloween and pouring several thousand caramels a season. Each one wrapped in red or green taffy paper, and packaged in a box or festive bag. They became my signature Christmas gift. Friends and family have come to expect the annual delivery.
Every now and again, I threaten to take a year off. After all they are very labor intensive and consume my every day between Halloween and the middle of December. Cooking, pouring, cutting, wrapping, packaging and mailing . . . it is a huge undertaking. I doubt I could actually take a year off though. I would miss the compliments too much!
In addition to the caramels we also make turtles. What could be better than toasted pecans, caramel and chocolate. These never get mailed out to anyone, the only way to get one is to get invited over during the holidays. We have tried walnuts and cashews but honestly, toasted pecan is the very best. We make milk chocolate and dark chocolate, using the very best chocolate we can find, always struggling with the process of tempering. This year Tina hit a high note with tempering the dark chocolate and they were perfect.
I can't give out the recipe, it is not mine to give but I have taught several of my nieces and nephews, and a friend or two how to make the caramels. My nieces Katie and Megan have spent several evenings over the years in our kitchen making their own stash for giving. It is a tradition I am happy to pass on to them.