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Gram’s Christmas Karmels

KarmelsI sit here ready to type up this Christmas Karmels recipe of Gram’s and my mind keeps wandering back to when I was a kid.  When Gramma Wesa would come and take JUST ME for sleep-overs at her house!   I cherish those moments with her… I remember the night she taught me about Lightning and Thunder during a storm and how to count to 10 between the FLASH and then comes the BANG!!  She’d let me paint her nails and she’d paint mine, always matching.  We’d watch movies and listen to 8 tracks and laugh!  She had this way of holding your arm and tapping her fingers which was always so comforting. I’m so lucky to have had a grandma as wonderful as she was… I hope I can be the same way someday.
One of the first times I remember helping her with her Christmas Candy was on one of those occasions.  We made Gram’s Christmas Karamels and English Toffee.  I remember how her  showing me the specific order of  how to add the ingredients, how turn the Karo bottle upside down after pouring so as to get every last drop, and how to make the “spoon suckers” with what was left in the pan after she poured them out… for early sampling, of course!!  Gram also taught me to let the Karmels boil nice and slow… take their time getting to 235 degrees! Because that’s the difference between our Karmels and everyone else Caramels!!  Ours darken and achieve a richer flavor by doing it the slow way… believe me it’s worth the wait 🙂
I’ve looked forward to sharing this Christmas Karmel recipe and some of Grams other Christmas Candy with you all.  They’re my all time favorite things to make because I love Christmas but most of all because they bring back so many wonderful memories of my grandmother.  She was famous (in my mind) for these recipes and was happy to share them with anyone who asked SO, from her kitchen… to mine… to yours… Merry Christmas!!

Gram’s Christmas Karmels

1 qt Karo syrup
4 C sugar
1 cup salted butter
1 12oz can evaporated milk
1 pint whip cream

In a heavy bottom stock pot combine over medium high Karo syrup and sugar.  Bring to boil.  Cook 2-3 minutes.  Add butter 1 cube at a time, stir until melted.  Add cream and evaporated milk.  Return to boil then turn down to low heat.  Place candy thermometer in pot. Let simmer for 1 hour (really! makes all the difference) stirring every 10-15 minutes. Spray two 8×10 pans. Turn up heat to medium high and stir continually until thermometer reaches 235 degrees.  Remove thermometer and pour Karmels into sprayed pans. Cool. Cut into 1 inch squares.  Wrap in wax paper strips.

* I have a plate and large spoons ready to go on the counter so I can scrape out the leftover Karmel to make spoon suckers for the kids!

**I have lived at higher and lower elevations and made this recipe every year… when I lived at a high elevation I had to lower the finishing temperature to 225 degrees and they turn out just the same.  Low elevation didn’t seem to affect the recipe.

***OH, yes… one more tidbit!  If you’re Karmels didn’t quite set up just put them back in the pan, cook them back down, throw in the candy thermometer and cook them up 2 degrees higher, pour out again in freshly sprayed pans.  I’ve had to do this before and they turn out just fine!  Sometimes the weather can effect the candy in crazy ways : /

In a heavy bottom stock pot pour in Karo syrup
Add sugar, mix, boil 2-3 minutes on medium high
Add butter one cube at a time
Put on lid, turn Karo bottle upside down if you want to get the last of it… Gram’s trick! Then add in
Add evaporated milk
Add cream (strangely dark pic… sorry!)
Bring to boil over medium high
Watch carefully that it doesn’t boil over and turn to low (yes, I’ve boiled over before NOT fun!!)
Place candy thermometer… it will settle around 210-215 degrees
Let simmer for an hour (or as close to it as you can stand) Stir every 15 minutes
When the simmer time is up.. turn up the heat to medium high and watch your thermometer carefully, continually stirring until 235 degrees
Almost there… make sure you’re pans are prepped and pour out the karmels
Spray pans
Have spoons and plate ready karmel suckers
Karmels poured out

AND the wrapping… the trick here is to wrap more than you eat : )

Tear off 6 inch sheets of wax paper
Cut into thirds
Cut Karmels into 1 inch strips
Then cut each strip into 1 inch sections, lay karmel in the center of wax paper
Fold in the edges
AND twist… have the kids help with the wrapping part and it goes a lot faster
Share and Enjoy!!
My daughter, Kate, just walked in the door and as loud as she could, said,”MOM! I smell Karmels!!  I LOVE this time of year!”  AND walked in here eating a Karmel spoon sucker with a big grin on her face : D

I hope you all enjoy Gram’s Christmas Karmels!!

Thanks to all of you for keeping up with my blog… I love doing it and am so happy to hear about your successes with cooking the recipes!!  I love hearing about how it’s going, if you ever have any questions or want to make a comment… GO right ahead!!  Love to you all…

Yield: 60

Gram's Christmas Karmels...



  • 1 qt Karo syrup
  • 4 C sugar
  • 1 cup salted butter
  • 1 12 oz can evaporated milk
  • 1 pint whip cream


  1. In a heavy bottom stock pot combine over medium high Karo syrup and sugar.
  2. Bring to boil. Cook 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add butter 1 cube at a time, stir until melted.
  4. Add cream and evaporated milk. Return to boil then turn down to low heat.
  5. Place candy thermometer in pot.
  6. Let simmer for 1 hour (really! makes all the difference) stirring every 10-15 minutes. Spray two 8x10 pans.
  7. Turn up heat to medium high and stir continually until thermometer reaches 235 degrees.
  8. Remove thermometer and pour Karmel into sprayed pans. Cool.
  9. Cut into 1 inch squares. Wrap in wax paper strips.


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  4. Grandyathome says:

    I am not sure of the measurement of “2 squares” of butter? could you be more exact? My butter comes wrapped as square and each square equals 1/2 cup of butter, would yours be the same? Thank you,

    • Ruth says:

      Hi Grandy! I’m sorry about the confusion… I need to be more specific with measurements and I’ll go fix it right now. Yes, it is 1 cup of butter total. I’m SO glad you found this recipe because you will love just love her Karmels!! They are amazing 🙂 Thank you for stopping by and I hope you come back again! Have a wonderful day!! xoxoxo Ruthie

  5. The American Homemaker says:

    I love making homemade caramels! It's one of the only "hard" recipes I make… and by hard I mean I have to actually stand there and stir it LOL

  6. Greg, Heather and Family..... says:

    I have had them and they are wonderful! Hey Ruthie are you sharing the love with your favorite neighbor? Ha! 🙂

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