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Homemade Candy Is Always Perfect Gift

January 26, 1989

Rich evaporated milk serves as a delicious base for homemade candies--a perfect gift for giving. Its creamy, smooth texture helps the candy remain moist and fresh for several days.

But be sure to choose the right cooking pan to allow the candy ingredients to boil freely without running over. It should be heavy enough to keep candy from burning or sticking to the bottom. In general, the pan should be about four times as great in volume as the ingredients.

Using a long wooden spoon that won't get too hot to handle is another plus for home candy makers. A candy thermometer is also a good buy since successful candy making depends on the temperature and the thermometer takes the guesswork out of testing the doneness. Be sure to remove candy from heat as you test for doneness so that overcooking does not occur.

Start candy making with Chocolate-Covered Pecans and Caramel, or Turtles as they are more commonly called. This simple confection is ideal since it can be prepared in a relatively short time.

In small saucepan, heat 1/4 cup butter or margarine and 1 cup evaporated milk until butter is melted. In separate 2-quart saucepan, over medium heat, cook 1 cup sugar, 1 cup dark corn syrup and 1/4 teaspoon salt until it reaches firm-ball stage (244 degrees). Stir often.

Slowly pour in hot milk mixture so that sugar mixture does not stop boiling. Stir constantly. Cook mixture until candy reaches firm-ball stage again, then remove pan from heat. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla and cool caramel to room temperature.

Arrange 4 pecans per Turtle on wax paper and place heaping teaspoon of cooled caramel on each. Let cool until firm. Melt 1 (6-ounce) package semisweet chocolate pieces on top of double-boiler and spread over caramel. Let cool until hardened.

To give chocolate shiny, hard coating, add 1 to 2 tablespoons melted paraffin wax to chocolate, if desired.

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