Caramel has this irresistible golden color, beautiful aroma and sweet taste – and it is nothing but crystallized sugar. Caramel can be used as an ingredient, but also as a decoration element of many desserts and cakes.
It may seem that preparing caramel is a task worthy of a really skilled pastry chef. Meanwhile, its preparation is simpler than we think. Caramel is nothing else but high temperature sugar. It is a great addition to many desserts, so it’s worth knowing how to prepare it. Do you know how to prepare amazing caramel? Let’s find out.
Caramel – how to make it?
While there are a few various ways of making it, there are the two most popular methods, called by many “dry” and “wet”.
The dry method is faster but also slightly more difficult. It consists in pouring sugar into a frying pan (with a thick bottom) and heating it until the sugar turns brown. However, this process is very fast and that is its difficulty! Because when the sugar becomes very brown or even black, it is bitter and useless.
To prepare caramel we need a saucepan or a thick-bottomed pan, on which we pour 1.5 cups of white or brown sugar and pour 8 tablespoons of water. We cook everything slowly, paying attention to the sugar dissolving before boiling – we cook caramel on low heat, stirring intensively with sugar.
When bubbles begin to appear on the mass, we stop using the spoon and mix the caramel gently, making circular movements with the pan. The whole should have the same color. The longer you keep the pans on fire, the darker the caramel will be.
The secret to a perfect texture – mixing
Also, never mix the finished caramel with a spoon, as this will cause it to clump. Instead, shake the pot gently so that the sugar melts evenly. When the homemade caramel begins to freeze too quickly, you can add a little water to it. This is a proven recipe for caramel without unsightly lumps!
When the homemade caramel is ready, remove the saucepan with it from the heat and put it in a dish filled with cold water. This will stop the caramelization process, which could burn the caramel and get a bitter taste. When the caramel begins to solidify too quickly, put it on the fire again until it regains its consistency.
One of the most important rules when preparing homemade caramel is to keep the temperature constant – not too low and not too high. By heating on medium heat, the caramel will get the right consistency, will not burn or get a bitter taste. A kitchen thermometer will be useful to control the caramelization process. It is very easy to burn caramel, it is almost black in color and characteristic bitterness is felt.
Watch out for hot caramel
The caramel cools down very quickly, but it can cause very painful burns, so you must handle the caramel with care. You can pour hot caramel on baking paper, and after cooling it, cut out the forms needed to decorate, e.g. dessert. You can also use it directly as coatings.