Mom was resolute. Halloween was her favorite holiday, and she was unyielding in the candy selection. The shelves of the grocery store were stocked, literally bulging, with eye-catching displays of my favorite candy bars and confections, wrapped in special Halloween-themed packaging and perfectly bite-size (or two-bite-size) for trick-or-treaters. Mom ignored these, barely acknowledged my pleadings for the Hershey’s multipack, and moved quickly to the less-colorful part of the candy aisle. She always made a beeline for the caramel candies, Brach’s maybe, the kind wrapped tightly in white wax paper. The kind that stuck in your teeth and tasted overwhelmingly like vanilla. The kind of thing I didn’t want Mom to give out on Halloween.
Over the years, I grew to appreciate the caramel candies and even anticipated their presence in our house; however, the homemade version is infinitely better. These soft candy caramels have a pleasingly smooth texture and the smoky, buttery dark caramel taste that is absent in their mass-produced counterparts.