The Simplest Homemade Candy Ever

Making and giving homemade holiday candy is a practice that marks the season for many cooks and their families. Some, however, are intimidated by the prospect of making confections at home. Will I need fancy equipment or ingredients? Will it take all day?

The good news is whether it’s toffee, brittle, bark, fudge, truffles or caramels (like the easy, delicious Challenge Dairy recipe we share below), most traditional holiday sweets are surprisingly simple to make, requiring only a handful of easily accessible ingredients. Here, we offer tips and tricks to make, package and gift our decadent Buttery Caramels in the holiday spirit, but they’re so good, you may want to be a Scrooge and keep them all for yourself.

  • Line with parchment paper. Lining your pan with foil, waxed paper, or plastic wrap just won’t work for these caramels. The candy will stick to foil, and waxed paper or plastic wrap won’t be able to stand up to the candy’s heat. If you do not have parchment paper, liberally butter the pan to keep candy from sticking.
  • Use Challenge Salted Butter. The salt in Challenge Salted Butter helps lift and magnify flavors, providing a contrast for creamy, sweet caramel that’s hard to resist. If you only have unsalted butter, add ¼ teaspoon of salt per stick of butter.
  • Buy a candy thermometer. The simplest, most effective way to ensure your candy is reaching the correct temperature is with a candy thermometer. Purchase one this year and you’re sure to use it for years to come.
  • Prevent scorching. Set temperature at medium heat and keep temperature constant throughout. Stir often to prevent scorching until candy reaches the desired temperature.
  • Cut clean. A sharp chef’s knife, submerged in hot water for several seconds and dried on a kitchen towel, sails through gooey caramels for a nice clean cut.
  • Cut, wrap, twist, and gift. Twisted into parchment paper wrappers or nonstick foil and gifted in mason jars, bags, or holiday mugs, these caramels spread glad tidings to teachers, neighbors, coworkers, and friends. Add a little tag and some red and white baker’s twine for extra cheer.