Gingerbread Peanut Caramels

Today is my favorite part of Easter.  As a child, the candy was provided for me, hidden inside the colorful plastic eggs my mother would hide around the house.  She’d leave little wicker baskets filled with that fake Easter grass outside my brother’s and my bedroom door, awaiting our bounding footsteps come morning.

My mom would also label the eggs she hid so my brother couldn’t dominate the search and keep me from my rightfully deserved Easter goodies.  The eggs would contain jelly beans, coins, and chocolate eggs.  She would also hide a larger chocolate rabbit for each of us.

Man, Easter is great.  Though nowadays, no one hides candy for me, I just go and buy it at a massive discount, and still reap the same amount of pleasure.

Caramels aren’t really an Easter candy, but it’s always nice to shake things up.  Hey, I just had steak last night for Easter dinner, so anything’s possible.

These caramels have a deep, luscious gingerbread flavor that is brilliantly punctuated by bits of chopped peanut.  I need to make caramel more often.   This stuff is sooooo good.

Gingerbread Peanut Caramels

Adapted from Vanilla Sugar Blog

Makes a lot of caramels (like 60-70)

4 Tbsp salted butter (I used unsalted)
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup half & half
½ cup light corn syrup
½ cup molasses
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Giant pinch of sea salt
½ cup of honey roasted peanuts, roughly chopped

Line an 8X8” baking dish with foil and grease. Get out a candy thermometer and clip onto a tall, heavy pot. Get your chopped peanuts ready, set aside.
Combine the butter, chocolate, milk, molasses, sugar, and salt in the pot. Place over medium heat and stir constantly and CONSTANTLY scrape the bottom of pan.  Let it boil and cook until the temperature reaches around 247 -249 (soft ball stage).  This will take 20-25 mins.  Make sure you can commit yourself to your caramel for this time period.

Once it hits this temperature remove from heat.  And add in the vanilla extract and stir (it will make a lot of noise and sizzle).
Next, working fast, add in your peanuts, and give it a good stir.
Once mixed, pour the hot mixture into your prepared baking dish.
In about 45 mins to one hour you should be able to handle caramel. Gently invert it from the  baking dish and transfer to a wooden board or plastic cutting board.
Using a sharp knife cut long strips about ¾ of an inch, then cut those strips into 1 or 2 inch pieces.) Wrap in wax paper and enjoy!  The caramels will stay good for 2-3 weeks, and while they may become a little hard, they are still perfectly tasty.

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