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Line an 8x8x2-inch or 9x9x2-inch baking pan with foil, extending foil over edges of pan. Butter the foil. Set aside.
In a 3-quart heavy saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add brown sugar, half-and-half, and corn syrup; mix well. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until mixture boils. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Reduce heat to medium. Continue boiling mixture at a moderate, steady rate, stirring frequently, until the thermometer registers 248°F, firm-ball stage (40 to 50 minutes). Adjust heat as necessary to maintain a steady boil.
Remove saucepan from heat; remove thermometer. Stir in vanilla. Quickly pour mixture into prepared pan. Cool 10 to 12 minutes; sprinkle with salt and pepper. When firm, use foil to lift candy out of pan. Use a buttered knife to cut into 2x1/2-inch pieces. Wrap each caramel in waxed paper or plastic wrap. Store up to 2 weeks.