Disclaimer #1: Andrew and I don't normally do Valentine's day, especially if we are both working. Disclaimer #2: I did what I did more because I had the day off, and would have still done it had it not been Valentine's Day (maybe I wouldn't have decorated the bucket).
When we were in Louisville for New Year's, we went to Muth's Candy. Andrew fell in love with their licorice caramels. So I found a recipe and yesterday, gave it a whirl. They turned out much better than I expected. When the recipe ended up making a bucket full, I decided I should decorate the lid of my recycled ice cream bucket.
So, if you like licorice, here's a recipe for you:
2 sticks butter
1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c karo light syrup
3 tsp anise extract
1 tsp black paste food coloring
Melt butter over medium heat in a dutch oven with a candy thermometer attached- (make sure your thermometer isn't touching the bottom). Add milk, sugar, salt and syrup. Stir constantly until thermometer shows 234 degrees (should be the soft ball mark on your thermometer). Remove from heat, add the anise extract (most recipes show 2 tsp, I used 3 because I didn't think it was strong enough with 2- the Hubs says it's perfect) and add the black food coloring. Stir until well blended, pour in a buttered 9"x13" baking dish. Let cool completely, then cut into caramel sized pieces. Wrap in waxed paper. Enjoy!
This made over 100 caramels for me. Of course, the bigger you cut, the less candies you have. I just tried to make them look the same size as store bought.
The lid was made with the Opposites Attract cartridge for the letters, The heart is from the Plantin SchoolBook cartridge and the Background is Doilie 5 from the Lovely Floral cartridge. I trimmed it with black small rick-rack and tied a metal A for Andrew on. Viola!