Caramel

Caramel

By
From
How to Cook Desserts
Makes
450 g
Photographer
Peter Cassidy

This will produce a brittle caramel that can either be broken into shards or drizzled onto an oiled baking sheet to harden and used for decoration.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
a little oil
500g granulated sugar
250ml water

Method

  1. Very lightly oil a baking tray. Put the sugar and water into a heavy-based saucepan. Place over a low heat and dissolve the sugar, using the handle of a wooden spoon to gently agitate the sugar to prevent it from ‘caking’ on the bottom of the saucepan. Try to avoid splashing syrup up the sides of the pan.
  2. Brush down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to remove any sugar crystals, then bring the syrup to a gentle boil. Boil the syrup, without stirring, until it is an even, rich golden colour. It may be necessary to swirl the caramel to encourage even colouring.
  3. Pour the caramel onto the oiled baking tray or quickly drizzle a pattern using a spoon. Wait for the caramel to cool completely and set before releasing it from the baking sheet and breaking it into pieces. It should be used soon after it is made as it will soon become sticky.

Controlling the cooking and colour of caramel…

  • Making a caramel requires confidence and decisive action. As the sugar syrup begins to take on colour, turn the heat down a little to slow the caramelisation of the sugar and give you more control of the cooking. Don’t leave it; sugar burns very quickly. As the sugar starts to caramelise you may need to give the saucepan a gentle swirl to ensure the sugar caramelises evenly.

    As the sugar colours more it will begin to smoke lightly. Watch the caramel carefully. Take the pan off the heat and swirl the caramel gently; this will help to reduce the size of the bubbles and allow you to see its true colour. If it is not the colour you require then return the pan to the heat and continue cooking.

    When the caramel reaches a rich golden colour, it is ready and you must act quickly to take it off the heat and pour it out of the pan. Even off the heat the caramel will continue to deepen in colour, and too deep a colour will cause bitterness.

    If you want to use the caramel to make a sauce, add water or cream to it to stop the cooking. It is best to have any liquid to hand and ready to use when you need it. The water needs to be poured onto the caramel when you think it is just a shade less than the desired colour, as the heat in the caramel will continue to colour it in the few seconds it takes to lift the liquid and pour it in. Stand well back when adding liquid to caramel, as it will splutter and spit alarmingly at first.

Making a dry caramel...

  • It is possible to make a caramel without water. It is slightly quicker as the sugar does not need dissolving and the water does not need to be evaporated, but it calls for close attention. Caster, rather than granulated sugar is preferable, as the crystals are smaller and melt more quickly.

    Sprinkle 200g caster sugar over the entire surface of a large, clean frying pan. Ideally the sugar should be no thicker than a few millimetres to ensure even colouring. Place the pan on a low to medium heat. The heat will start to melt the sugar at the edges, but leave it undisturbed. As more and more sugar melts and takes on colour, carefully swirl the pan to encourage even browning. You may need to use a fork to gently encourage the unmelted sugar to the outside of the pan to melt, but don’t stir the sugar vigorously or it may crystallise. Eventually all the sugar should have melted and an even caramel formed. Act swiftly as the caramel will burn easily.
Tags:
leiths
desserts
baking
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