I'm Catherine, one of Erin's cousins from Cincinnati, Ohio. (You might have seen my sister's post on tourtière, our Christmas Eve tradition--she talked about Michael, seen posing above by our tree.)
Even though it's Christmas Eve, the tradition I'll share here is a New Year's Eve tradition we have at the Daun house. Once a year my mother allows a short break from the household ban on junk food and we each "order" foods we wish to splurge upon. In early years we would all go grocery shopping together, loading up the cart with donuts, blue Powerade, cream puffs, and little hot dogs. The pickings have changed over the years to sushi, shrimp, cheesecake, and Yagööt frozen yogurt, but the concept is the same--a dinner of usually forbidden or rarely-enjoyed snacks. As Grandpa Smith said on one visit, "That is not dinner."
Since this year we will be in Phoenix, Arizona for New Year's Eve and Day (our lovely cousin Tori Neil is getting married on the 28th!) my family had our junk food feast tonight, on Christmas Eve, and it was wonderful!
My recipe is caramels--my mother likes to give little bags of treats to neighbors and friends, and this year we gave out handmade and hand-wrapped caramel candies. Although totally unrelated to my holiday tradition, the caramels are gluten-free, easy to make, and fun to share. Enjoy, and merry Christmas!
2 c. white sugar
1 c. packed brown sugar
1 c. light corn syrup
1 c. heavy cream
1 c. butter
1 ½ t. vanilla extract
Combine the first five ingredients in a saucepan and stir them all gently together. Let the mixture come to 248° F (if you don't have a candy thermometer, this is the firm ball stage), remove it from the heat, and stir in vanilla extract. Pour it into a either one pre-buttered 9x13 pan or two pre-buttered 8x8 pans. Let it cool, then take out the block and cut it into pieces, whatever size you want. Wrap the pieces in wax paper and twist the ends.