5 January 2006

Caramel Update

Posted in candy making, food at 5:41 am by Tricia

I checked with my mom. She is familiar with these caramels, and even has a friend who occasionally makes them for her! She also remembers reading about the fund-raiser sale ‘back in the day.’ She told me the recipe (or one similar) appears on page 289 in my “Savoring the Southwest” cookbook (a product of the Roswell Symphony Guild).

So I checked my copy and sure enough, there’s a recipe for “Sally’s Fours” in the middle of the page, sandwiched between peanut brittle and apricot balls. Roll Twilight Zone music: I even had a bookmark stuck in that page, because a few summers ago I used the last recipe on the page to make those apricot balls! (and my derivative, dried cherry balls rolled in cocoa powder – sadly, dried cherries really gum up a kitchenaid food grinder attachment so it’s best to stick with the apricots!)

Anyway, Baggett explains how the recipe is known as fours in Roswell because of four ingredients with equal amounts. Note that neither one has four ingredients with identical amounts! (unless they mean weight, not volume…) This version is not identical to Ms Baggett’s recipe, so I feel a taste test coming on… I wonder where I can find an inexpensive source for whipping cream?

(For the record, Baggett’s instructions are much more detailed and precise, which comes in handy when making candy. My mom told me “they’re supposed to be hard to make” – and given the brevity of the recipe in Savoring, I’m not surprised they have that reputation. Maybe that was so the altar guild women could protect their fundraiser profits, since this cookbook was published while they were still doing their annual sales. :^)


Edited in 2016 to add: I’ve posted a blog entry that includes my variation on Baggett’s original recipe. Find it here: New Mexico Caramels go to Piedmont



  1. Lindsey said,

    Hello, I’ve just come across your blog, briefly mentioning the “sallys fours” recipe. I have received the recipe from a friend and as you mentioned before, the recipe is very vague. I have tried the recipe three times which were an epic fail. The caramel will not set for me. I have googled endlessly for information however, your blog is the only thing that barely mentions the recipe. I was hoping that maybe you could give some advice as to what I’m doing wrong?:/ my friends grandma makes this for her occasionally due to being very elderly. I unfortunately was not able to get advice from her grandma.:( thank you for any input you can give!

    • Tricia said,

      Hi Lindsey – I apologize for not replying before. If you still get notifications maybe you’ll see this. Karen has just posted a link with the recipe in a comment below yours. It’s here: http://www.positivelysplendid.com/fours-candy-salted-caramels-with-chocolate/
      Maybe it will help!

      A couple of days ago I sat in on a demonstration of caramel making. The chef only made caramel sauce (not soft caramel candies), but he really emphasized the importance of using an accurate candy thermometer. Is your problem that your caramels never set up, or that they get too hard?

      • Lindsey said,

        Thank you for replying. After making the caramel 5 times, I finally succeeded. It had to cook for maybe a half an hour to 45 minutes or so. I didn’t focus on the time rather the consistency. It actually wouldn’t increase in temperature at all for most of the time and go beyond a caramel sauce. Or than cooking at a high temperature for a long time and rarely stirring, do you have any pointers for me. I make divinity like a pro but caramel is very new to me. My thermometers are sunbeam and Taylor so those I think are pretty good.

  2. Karen said,

    My family has made the Roswell fours recipe for over 50 years. Here is a link to the Positively Splendid blog where Amy has details of making these candies. You need a Yumprint account to view the recipe. She cooks the caramel to 245 degrees, but I find 270-280 degrees (soft crack stage) is what works for me.

    • Tricia said,

      Hi Karen, thanks for the comment but it looks like you forgot to include the link – or maybe wordpress blocked it somehow? If it’s the former you could try again – if the latter maybe email it to me and I’ll see if I can update the post with it.

  3. Karen said,

    I can’t imagine how that happened! 🙂
    Here’s the link: http://www.positivelysplendid.com/fours-candy-salted-caramels-with-chocolate/

    • Tricia said,

      Thanks! I’ve never heard of yumprint before and don’t have an account so I can’t see the recipe, but maybe the person who commented above will see this and get the help she needed. And now I’m inspired to make some this holiday season :^)

  4. Karen said,

    I cook it on pretty high heat, between medium high and high, in a heavy pan. On my gas stove, it takes 20 minutes or more. The temperature stays rather low for quite awhile, but once it begins to get around 250 or so it climbs more quickly. My mother tests hers by putting a drop in cool water, balling it up and seeing if it “clicks” when she taps it against the side of the glass. She is able to gauge how it is coming along by watching its consistency as it drips off the wooden spoon she uses to stir it. Calibrate your candy thermometer by putting in it boiling water. It should read 212 degrees.

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