Thursday, January 2, 2014

Caramel Bugles

Last year, my family went to our ranch after Christmas.  We like to stop and talk to our closest neighbors, seeing as they are close friends, family without legal or blood bonds.  The wife is a fantastic cook, and always has leftovers from family meals, Christmas treats, and cooking for hunters that rent out the local hunting cabins.  Anyway, last year she gave us a big bag of treats, and told us the recipe was in her cookbook we had bought.

This year, Mom and I thought we could have some made for our own family get-togethers for the holidays.  I didn't remember what the recipe was called, so I googled the ingredients, but didn't find it anywhere.  So I read the entire cookbook sections on desserts, cookies, and candies, and finally found it.  Since I didn't see it online, I'm posting the recipe here for everyone.

Caramel Bugles

2-3 bags of Bugles corn chips (may also use cereal i.e. Chex, Rice Krispies, Cheerios, etc.)
Handful of ice cubes
Cold Water
1 cube butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup light corn syrup
1 lb. brown sugar (half a regular bag)
Optional: 1/4 cup cream
Optional: 1 tsp. vanilla
Optional: mix-ins such as M&Ms, chocolate chips, nuts, mini marshmallows, etc.

Tools needed:
Heavy saucepan
Heavy wooden spoon
Candy Thermometer
Measuring cup
Spray can of vegetable oil
Pastry brush
Greased jelly roll pan(s)
Large mixing bowl

Place ice cubes in mug, and fill with cold water (This is to test caramel, as well as for the pastry brush).  Place near stove top. Clip candy thermometer to sauce pan; don't let the tip touch the bottom of the pan.  Grease jelly roll pan(s).  Pour the chips into the large bowl.  Set aside.

 In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter.  Use spray oil to grease your one-cup measuring cup, and pour in the corn syrup (This help it pour out easier).  Add the sweetened condensed milk and cream.  Using a whisk, mix in the brown sugar.  Bring this mixture to a boil, stirring constantly.  At this point, I prefer to use a heavy wooden spoon.  Periodically dip the pastry brush in the ice water and brush along the inside of the sauce pan, above the caramel mixture; this prevents crystals from forming.  Constantly stir the mixture.  Caution: milk products burn easily, so you may want to constantly use the spoon against the bottom of the pan to prevent burning the caramel; if it burns and you stir against it, you will have chunks of burnt caramel in your sauce, which isn't very pretty or desirable.  Keep stirring until the thermometer reaches the soft ball stage, about 230-245 degrees Fahrenheit.   Remove from heat, and stir in the vanilla.

Pour the caramel over the Bugles chips.  With the wooden spoon, fold the sauce in until the chips are evenly coated.

Spread the chips over the jelly roll pan(s).  You want them spread apart so they are not stuck together, and can be easily eaten by hand.  When the sauce is cool enough to the touch, you may sprinkle other toppings onto the sauce (I have used M&Ms, chocolate chips, cashews, and mini marshmallows).  When completely cool, you may place in to bowls, or into treat bags for gifts.