Making Caramel can be a daunting thing for anyone who isn’t a pastry chef. How much heat should you set your stove at? Do you need a thermometer? Has the caramel burnt or is it supposed to be this dark in colour? Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered with the easiest steps to follow to make the perfect caramel every time.
There are two types of caramel making techniques. One is the dry method where sugar is the only ingredient used .It is often used for making pralines, brittles, and in flans. The other is the wet method which involves adding a few more ingredients like butter, water and cream.It is often used for sauces and dipping apples. For any of these methods you need to get a few basic preparations right before you start.
- Use a sturdy large pot or pan that won’t overflow.
- Keep a deep bowl of icy water nearby to plunge your hand into if caramelized sugar lands on it.
- Wear a long sleeve shirt. Caramel is hot and can splatter, especially when adding other ingredients are added.
Utensils and Tools
The saucepan that you use should be washed and dried thoroughly. No wet patches before you attempt a caramel. A wet spot in your saucepan can cause the sugar to sieze up and crystallize, causing lumps.
Whatever pan you use, make sure it’s light-colored, heavy-duty and solid. The spatulas that you use, make sure that they are heat resistant and preferably use a spatula with a wooden handle so that it is easier to hold in the heat.
If you can get your hands on a sugar thermometer and plan to make caramels often, great! A thermometer helps a lot in getting the perfect stage of the caramel. Not too dark that its burnt and not too light that its not yer done.If you do use the thermometer, the caramel stage is at 320-360 degrees Farenheit or 160- 182 degrees Celcius.
The only ingredient you need is sugar.
- Add an even layer of sugar in your pan.
- Keep the heat at moderate. If your heat is too high, the sugar will start burning from the bottom.
- Keep an eye on it an the sugar will start caramelizing from the edges.
- Start dragging the caramelized parts in from the sides to the center.
- Keep moving your spatula from the outside edge to the center. Keep moving the sugar around gently so that no one spot gets burnt.
- If lumps start to form. lower the heat and move the sugar around a little more. It will start to melt.
- When the colour starts to go to a really deep brown, switch off the heat and stir for a few seconds.
- This caramel hardens on cooling, so if you are making a praline , add in the nuts at this stage. For a flan or caramel custard also pour the caramel into the baking dish now.
- The ingredients needed for this are 3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water, cream (optional) and 1 1/2 tablespoons butter.
- Add the sugar and the water together to the and mix thoroughly. There should be no dry spots and the sugar should be completely covered.
- Cook the sugar and water on medium heat until the sugar dissolves.
- To prevent recrystallization,keep the pot covered until the sugar is completely melted. Any sugar crystals hanging on to the sides of the pot will be forced to the bottom by the condensation created.
- You can also add a drop or two of lemon juice or cream of tartar to the water and sugar mixture to prevent crystalization.
- As the sugar darkens to a deep brown colour, take it off the heat immediately.
- Add the cream and butter to the saucepan after taking it off the heat. This will stop the sugar from cooking further and also prevent the splitting of the cream.