How to make your own caramel

I know I've complained before about how I am not fond of caramel.  It's usually too sweet, and the way it sticks to everything is just not pleasant.  The solution: make your own (with salt, which makes all sweet things taste better)!  This is actually the topping recipe from the turtle brownies I made a couple weeks ago, so perhaps I should start with my cookie project update.

87. Turtle Brownies
Do not let the picture fool you - although the brownies here look dry, they were actually quite moist and delicious.  These are basic brownies covered with a mix of homemade caramel and toasted pecans.  Honestly, I think these were really delicious, although my friends complained that they got too much of a sugar rush.  That would be the fault of the caramel, which is basically a supersaturated sugar syrup that is boiled until the sugar caramelizes (more information at the end of the post).  I didn't think this was a problem, though, so I intend to make these again sometime as summer approaches.

88. Rugelach Fingers
These little bars were a big hit in my office: the top and bottom layers are a flaky cream cheese pastry dough that was rolled out to be very thin (which was kind of a big hassle), and the filling is a mix of semisweet chocolate, currants, toasted walnuts, orange zest, cinnamon, and sugar (plus some butter and corn syrup to hold it together).  As I said, it was kind of annoying to roll this dough out to be so thin, but the result is visually and gustatorily pleasing, the latter especially after the filling flavors had a day to mingle properly.

And now what I promised: how to make caramel:

  • 1 C sugar
  • 1/3 C water
  • 1/3 C heavy (whipping) cream
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t coarse salt
Bring sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved.  When this mixture begins to boil, stop stirring and cook until medium amber (5-7 minutes).  You'll want to have a wet pastry brush available to wash down the sides of the pan to keep crystals from forming, and can swirl the pan occasionally while the sugar is cooking.

Remove the mixture from heat and immediately add cream, vanilla, and salt.  Stir with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula until smooth.  Take care of this quickly because the entire mixture will begin to thicken as soon as it starts to cool.

From here you can add pecans and pour it on top of brownies, or pour it out into a pan or something and let it cool in the refrigerator for ~30 minutes before trying to cut it.

That is all for now, work has got me very busy these days with some stuff I'll probably discuss once I get it figured out, and I've got a couple long-term projects running that I expect to also talk about when they're done (one involves leaving lemon peels soaking in vodka for 80 days, which should be ready right in time for summer).

1 comment:

  1. P.S. Method #2 for caramel:

    Melt 50 grams (about 1/4 of a cup) of caster sugar (or just regular sugar) in a skillet.
    Medium-high heat, uh....takes about 10 minutes or so. (I'll confirm the timing tomorrow).

    Method #3:

    Candy thermometer. Equal parts sugar and water. (i.e. if you have 1 cup sugar, use 1 cup water.)

    Heat to 340 F. (~170 C). Remove from heat and place in ice bath.

    If you're making caramel for eating, sprinkle a pinch of coarse kosher salt on top.

    If it's going into something, add in the salt to the initial solution. It does help to bring out the flavor a bit, but I usually skip it (cuz I typically would have (so many) other things going on that you probably wouldn't even notice if the caramel is salted or unsalted.



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