About this time of year, I start looking for things I can make as Christmas gifts. A few years ago, being in the middle of nowhere and all, and having nosy children who ran to the UPS truck every time a package arrived from Amazon, I decided that making some Christmas gifts might be a wise choice. Besides, I like making stuff. Creating.
When my kids were little and I was new to homeschooling, I read all sorts of books on how to teach, what my children’s’ gifts were, what kind of teaching style suited them, etc.., etc… One of my children learned best by doing tactile things; he was/is a kinesthetic learner. One is an auditory learner, another a visual learner. When my children took these tests, I also took them. For the most part, I’m a visual person, but I’m also a bit kinesthetic.
So when it comes time to make gifts, I lean toward the visual; I’ve painted paintings, embroidered pillows, and made jewelry. Visual and tactile. Sometimes though, it’s fun to include other senses. Taste, for example.
Most people enjoy food. Well, in fact, now that I think about it, everybody I know likes to eat. And at Christmas time, food can be festive and perhaps even a little decadent.
Like caramel, for instance. Caramel is decadent. Very decadent.
A couple weeks ago my daughter and I went to a baby shower, and one of the foods on the buffet table was an extremely decadent, very smooth, creamy caramel served with apples slices. Normally, I’m not a caramel caramel fan. I like salted caramel. but plain caramel isn’t the be-all end-all for me. But this caramel was just sooooo creamy that I kind of fell in love.
Still, my mind started racing with the possibilities using the recipe- that I finagled out of the hostess – as a base for other kinds of caramel. (‘Cause I like to tinker with my recipes. Even longstanding family heirloom kinds of recipes aren’t immune!) My mind raced through various takes on caramel: salted caramel, peanut butter caramel, chocolate caramel, salted chocolate caramel, banana caramel; well, you get the idea. What I settled on though – for the time being at least – is a mocha caramel. Delicious chocolate with a hint of espresso, all gooey and warm, and… and…. and…
Really, this recipe is just about as easy as it can be. It took all of 15 minutes to make, and have I mentioned that it’s soooo creamy? It would be fantastic served with fruit, crackers, cookies, ice cream – you name it! It’s the perfect unique gift to give your child’s teacher, the mailman, your coworker, or just about anyone.
Mocha Caramel Sauce
Makes 1 quart
- 1 C light corn syrup
- 1 lb light brown sugar
- ¼ C unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ t Kosher salt
- 1 T espresso powder
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 1 t vanilla extract
- 1 t coffee extract
In a heavy 4 or 5 qt. Saucepan, mix together corn syrup, brown sugar, salt, cocoa powder and espresso powder.
Stir together over medium heat, bringing to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes.
Add the condensed milk, and butter, stirring together. Add in both extracts and stir rapidly as the mixture will spatter if you don’t. Bring to a boil once again; as soon as it reaches the boiling stage, turn the heat off. Let cool slightly then pour into 4 pint jars. Refrigerate.
To serve, microwave for 20 seconds at a time, stirring each time, until desired consistency. Enjoy!
-To make the basic caramel sauce recipe, leave out the cocoa powder, espresso powder, and substitute the teaspoon of coffee extract for another teaspoon of vanilla extract.
-If you would like to make this for gifts, pour slightly cooled caramel into 4 prepared pint canning jars and cover with lids. Since this contains dairy, it should only be refrigerated and can not be canned.