There are so many caramel recipes floating around the internet. In fact, I've tried many of them. Some are great. Some - not so great. But this recipe is one that I have had for many years. In my vast treasure trove of recipes that are currently sitting in a box waiting to be organized, I have several recipes from my grandmothers. This is one such recipe, straight from my Grandma C, who died last January at the age of 98. I know - 98!? She called these English Caramels and I remember eating them at Christmas time when I was very young.
The caramels are chewy and soft and once you eat one, you simply cannot stop. The recipe is basic, so you can vary up the flavorings (like use peppermint or other extracts) or even add a little sea salt on the top (you know, for "sea salted caramels").
Also... as with all candy making, if you live at a higher elevation, you need to adjust the cooking time/temperature. Here's the basic rule of thumb for candy making at high elevations:
For every 1000 feet above sea level, reduce candy temperature (the temperature to which the candy cooks) by 2ºF.
Grease a 13x9 metal baking pan. Place near the stove.
In large saucepan (3-4 quart), combine the butter, sugar, corn syrup, cream, condensed milk, and vinegar. Stir over medium heat to dissolve the sugar. Stop stirring and bring to a boil. Cook until the temperature reaches the firm ball stage, approximately 248ºF. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
Cool for 15-20 minutes and then cut into squares with a sharp knife. It is easiest to remove the caramel from the pan and cut it on a lightly oiled cutting board. Wrap the individual squares in wax paper.
Note: This recipe makes a lot, so you can cut it half it easily. We had a family production line going with my husband cutting squares of wax paper, me cutting the caramel and the kids wrapping the pieces.