DIY Thursdays: How to Perfect Caramel

1a

As human beings we have a tendency to over complicate things and somehow, down the lane these things get the reputation of being difficult. One of these seemingly difficult things is attaining, a beautiful, deep auburn caramel of course.

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You can make a simple vanilla ice cream sassy with caramel topping. From dribbling a bit of caramel sauce on top of pancakes, sprinkling pounded caramel on whipped cream to sticking toffee shards and spun sugar on cheesecakes, caramel has the power to take a deadpan looking dessert to something show stopping.

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4a

However, you have got to make the caramel. How can something as easy as breaking down sugar be so complicated? The first time I made caramel my kitchen was filled with fumes as my caramel burnt into a black tar. The second time, it didn’t turn into tar but it still tasted burnt. The third time, the caramel turned out fine but it set too quickly, became rock hard and in the process of melting it, I burnt it again.

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In my trials and tribulations with making caramel, I’ve learnt what to do and what not to do. It’s not all that bad really, but I’d advise you to keep a candy thermometer at hand for this and a heavy bottom saucepan will go a long way. Don’t use a wire whisk or a wooden spatula to stir your caramel. Use heat resistant rubber spatula (I would advise you to not stir your caramel)

To make caramel you’ll need:

  • 100 g sugar
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 tbsp light corn syrup

Add sugar and water to a heavy bottom saucepan. Put it over gentle simmer. Swirl the pan gently till the sugar dissolves. Add the corn syrup. Once the sugar melts, stick the candy thermometer. Let the sugar cook until the thermometer reads 325 F and the caramel is a rich, auburn colour. I like the slight bitter/burnt taste to my caramel, so I leave it on for an extra 30 seconds.  To stop your caramel cooking, dunk the saucepan into a large bowl of ice cold water.

You can’t stop your caramel from setting. It will become hard as it cools down. To get it back to the sauce consistency, reheat it by putting the saucepan back on very low heat.

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