Homemade Cow Tales

April  1, 2013
3 Ratings
  • Makes 50 pieces
Author Notes

This is my homemade take on a favorite nostalgic candy. For those not familiar, Cow Tales (not Cow Tails) are 8-inch lengths of soft caramel and cream filling.

Cow Tales are manufactured by, and are a Registered Trademark of, Goetze's Candy Company, Inc. —Heather Baird

What You'll Need
  • Caramel
  • 1 cup clear or "light" corn syrup
  • 2 cups heavy cream, divided
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoon softened butter for greasing pans
  • Cream filling
  • 5 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 1 cup white vegetable shortening
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 ounce unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar for dusting
  1. For the caramel: Generously butter two 10x15 jelly roll pans. Larger pans will work, too, but smaller ones won't. Place the pans on cooling racks.
  2. In a large saucepan over medium heat combine the corn syrup, 1 cup of the heavy cream, sugar, and pinch of salt. Stir well.
  3. Set pan over heat and stir constantly until the mixture comes to a bubble. This will take about 10 to 12 minutes. The mixture will appear milky at first, then lose some of its opaqueness as it heats.
  4. Once the mixture boils, very slowly add the remaining heavy cream, stirring constantly. Be careful not to disrupt the boil. Lower the heat to medium-low. Set a timer for 6 minutes and allow the mixture to bubble. It will rise high and bubble quite a bit during this 6-minute stage.
  5. When the time is up, add the butter, 2 to 3 cubes at a time, and mix until butter has melted.
  6. Insert your candy thermometer and let the mixture bubble until it reaches 250 degrees. When you first insert the thermometer, the temperature will be around 200 to 217 degrees. It will take a good 30 to 40 minutes for the mixture to reach 250. Do not rush this phase by turning up the heat. This is when the caramel takes on its amber color.
  7. When the thermometer reads 250, remove the pan from the heat and pour half of the caramel in one pan and half in the other. Allow the caramel to cool. While you're waiting, make the cream filling.
  8. For the cream filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together sugar, shortening, and vanilla. The mixture will be dry and crumbly and you'll probably wonder if you've done something wrong. Don't worry -- you're on the right track. Stop the mixer and scrape down the edges several times.
  9. Place 1/4 cup water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over. Let stand until absorbed.
  10. Microwave gelatin for 10 seconds or until clear and liquid. Add to the bowl of the running mixer.
  11. The mixture will soften and become thick and doughy. Mix the heck out of it until it starts climbing the sides of the bowl. Scrape down the sides (and bottom, especially if using a KitchenAid) and mix again.
  12. Place a portion of the dough in a disposable pastry bag or zip-top bag with the corner snipped. Make sure the hole is big enough to pipe a nice thick line of cream filling -- at least 1/4 inch. Cover the bowl of cream filling with a damp towel so it doesn't dry out.
  13. Assemble: Lay out several sheets of parchment or wax paper on a work surface, preferably a large cutting board or a surface you don't mind cutting on.
  14. Remove the caramel from one of the pans. It should remove easily if you lift one corner and peel the entire slab of caramel away from the buttered pan. Place it on the paper-covered work surface.
  15. Cover caramel with additional wax paper and roll it a little thinner with a rolling pin. Try to achieve an even thickness.
  16. Remove paper and cut caramel into long strips, about 2 to 2 1/2 inches wide. Pipe a line of cream filling down one side of the length of the caramel.
  17. Roll cream filling into the caramel. The caramel will fold over easily and overlap. Roll and gently stretch into a 16-inch length. Cut into two 8-inch pieces. Tip: the caramel rope will squeeze together when you cut it, making the ends flat. You can either squeeze it back the other way to make a round end, or refrigerate the candy for a few minutes before cutting. Once chilled, the ends will snap off evenly when cut with a sharp knife.
  18. Repeat with remaining caramel and cream. This will take some time, as there is a lot of candy to work with.
  19. Roll the candy in powdered sugar and dust off any excess. Wrap each candy in a layer of plastic wrap, then in a length of wax paper with the ends twisted. This helps the candy keep its shape.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Darlene Sharples
    Darlene Sharples
  • Alex Peters
    Alex Peters
  • Thamra Leslie Crawford
    Thamra Leslie Crawford
  • agamom
I'm Heather, an artist-turned-baker with a passion for desserts! I write the SprinkleBakes blog - a place where I show people how to add more sparkle to their baking. I live in Knoxville, TN. with my husband Mark and two pugs named Biscuit and Churro. My book "SprinkleBakes: Dessert Recipes to Inspire Your Inner Artist" was published May 2012.

16 Reviews

Darlene S. October 2, 2021
I want to make these but will substitute my sugar subs and the substitute for the corn syrup but where I am puzzled and usually can figure out servings real easy? How to you get 50 with 2 baking pans 10 x 15? Cutting widths of 2 to 2 1/2 inch long strips? You can possibly get 48 but how the heck you get 50? 25 per sheet since you can't cut 12.5 strips for each pan and cut them in half when you roll them to 16 inches? Or are you missing another cut the pan into 25 squares, fill each and then roll each to 8 inches? Either I am retarded, you can't count or you typed a mistake.
Pinemoon F. February 3, 2021
I just finished this recipe and I followed to the letter, even though I knew better. The only reason I made this account was to warn anyone that wants to try this as a first time candy.

To everyone that this recipe failed, it's not your fault. The candy temp is too high, (this is a hard ball temp, not a soft ball temp), the cream is made poorly and too thick when made as directed. This seems like a copy of another recipe I found for a similar candy, but the changes made were absolutely the wrong ones. There is no way, if followed, you get a chewy, creamy candy. Author, if you truly made your candy this way, you are either being deceitful for unknown reasons or you really need to calibrate your thermometer, because there is a significant difference between 234* (soft ball) and 250* (hard ball). You even skipped the firm ball stage (240*) which might have worked. Candy science is candy science, and the science isn't in this recipe, 0/10.
Diane December 6, 2015
Okay, so I thought I followed the directions, but when I tried to roll my caramel slab a bit thinner.. it cracked into pieces?? What did I do wrong? Sadly, I've had to eat all the bits of caramel that didn't make it ;)
Alex P. March 17, 2014
Ok.. lets see if we can try this.. again. I have no problem cooking with, using or frying in Crisco. I have no problem using butter, cream and all the other wonderful ingredients that make cooking delicious. What I do have a problem with is eating it raw combined with ONLY confectioners sugar and gelatin. That is exactly what this well meaning recipe calls for. And it doesn't turn into anything else, just an unpleasant combination of.. you guessed it, raw crisco with some sugar, which to me was a strange and well, yucky taste. If you enjoy eating crisco and sugar by the spoonful, by all means, go ahead. For me, this just didn't work. :)
Thamra L. March 15, 2014
Well ! It sounds like many of you shouldn't bother making Cow Tales at all if your that worried about using Criso or Butter. There are many cookies,cakes and candies that use Criso and or Butter.
Alex P. January 21, 2014
:) that's good to know!
Kristi January 20, 2014
Lol I'm well aware of what crisco is and in fact most buttercream frostings have a combination of butter and shortening. :)
Alex P. January 20, 2014
His recipe calls for white vegetable shortening, that IS Crisco and not buttercream frosting. Buttercream frosting is made with butter, cream and confectioners sugar.
Try the recipe, you may love it! It was just too sweet and too Crisco-y for my taste. :)

Kristi January 20, 2014
I don't quite understand the previous comment? It's certainly not "pure crisco" and if you've ever enjoyed buttercream frosting then that's really all the filling is :)
Alex P. December 30, 2013
...and I made them with Crisco and the thought of eating all that.. raw Crisco really turned my stomach. I imagine that what is in commercial cowtails is probably worse but like hotdogs, I don't SEE it being made, so I am in happy oblivion. All tastes are different, but for me these just do NOT work... too sweet, caramel too buttery and an overall weirdness that I couldn't place... oh wait, I am eating pure Crisco!! So yeah, think I figured it out. For $1 a package, I am going back to buying these at the store!
Alex P. December 22, 2013
I made these and while they were good, the caramel was delicious (!) but just too, too sweet for me. I made them with organic shortening, Palm oil, and while it was good, it was just.. too sweet! Maybe made with Crisco it's different... ? Thanks for the idea :)
Alex P. December 9, 2013
Could you substitute Palm Oil for the white vegetable shortening..? What do you think? :)
m.sharpe April 12, 2013
can the gelatin be omitted or possible substitution?
lizziebeth April 7, 2013
... the originals have wheat and this recipe doesn't - Gluten Free, yea!!!
agamom April 5, 2013
I know many small children who will love these treats~! Thank you for this recipe & the photos are beautiful. Any ideas on replacing the corn syrup and white vegetable shortening with something more 'real' ? They will not taste like true "Cow Tales" but perhaps even more delicious... Brown rice syrup & butter? Will have to try a few creative substitutions.
Brian October 15, 2013
Here is a nice link on substituting corn syrup. Invert sugar seems to be the way to go.
You could probably use butter, but the flavor would different. You could also use lard, if you are comfortable with that.