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Caramel Troubleshooting


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255 replies to this topic

#91 dmalouf

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 10:15 AM

Greetings everyone. I'm somewhat new to this site and am inspired by the collective knowledge here.

I have been working on caramel recipes and have tried cooking them to firm ball stage like most recipes suggest but find that the caramels are just too hard.

When I cook them to softball stage, the texture is better but then they're too sticky to cut. If I refrigerate, cut, then dip them in chocolate, they leak out of the shell because the center's too cold.

Any advice on the best way to keep them slightly soft but still manageable? I've read about caramel rulers but don't understand how they work.

Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thank you.

#92 lizard

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 10:58 AM

Greetings everyone. I'm somewhat new to this site and am inspired by the collective knowledge here.

I have been working on caramel recipes and have tried cooking them to firm ball stage like most recipes suggest but find that the caramels are just too hard.

When I cook them to softball stage, the texture is better but then they're too sticky to cut. If I refrigerate, cut, then dip them in chocolate, they leak out of the shell because the center's too cold.

Any advice on the best way to keep them slightly soft but still manageable? I've read about caramel rulers but don't understand how they work.

Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thank you.

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Welcome!
Have you tried cutting soft caramel with oiled string? Unwaxed dental floss dipped in butter works well for me.

Hope this helps!

#93 Trishiad

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 11:34 AM

I let my caramel sit at least 24 hours before slicing. It gets less sticky and easier to work with if you give it some time.

#94 dmalouf

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 11:56 AM

I let my caramel sit at least 24 hours before slicing.  It gets less sticky and easier to work with if you give it some time.

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Thanks Trishiad. Do you cook them to soft ball or hard ball stage? Do you cover them?

#95 Trishiad

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 04:33 PM

soft ball, no cover. however, they are on a speed rack with an unzipped cover so nothing strange gets stuck to them.

#96 chiantiglace

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 04:39 PM

just be careful with the overnight where you live. If its not well sealed in a climate controlled enviroment humidity can tear caramel apart. I had caramel fall apart on me in 2 hours once.
Dean Anthony Anderson
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#97 Trishiad

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 08:27 PM

Fall apart? What exactly do you mean? (low humidity northern california here)

#98 chiantiglace

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Posted 31 August 2005 - 07:30 AM

what happens is the caramel creates a surface layer thats almost like a gel/sticky liquid. So when handleing it tends to slide off creating a mess.


North carolina Dismal Swamp area here. I cant escape humidity. Some times its so thick it punches you in the face.
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#99 dmalouf

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Posted 31 August 2005 - 09:24 AM

Does anyone know how caramel rulers work? They sell them at jbprince.com.



Many thanks

#100 Patrick S

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Posted 02 September 2005 - 06:40 PM

I have only ever used a chef's knife to cut caramel. I always let the caramel cure overnight, loosely covered or uncovered. If the caramel is very soft, I refridgerate it. I cut with a chef's knife lightly oiled, and make sure the blade is clean before each cut. Here are two examples of the results I get:

A batch of Herme's lemon chocolate caramels that turned out a little too soft. These had been refridgerated:

Posted Image
Posted Image

Here's a of batch of caramels made from Flo Braker's recipe in Sweet Miniatures. These were neither too hard nor too soft, and were cut without refridgeration.

Posted Image
Posted Image
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#101 BekkiM

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Posted 16 October 2006 - 08:10 AM

Thank goodness for eGullet. I made a Rum Caramel Sauce yesterday and, for the first time ever, had two batches of sugar sieze before they caramelized. Unfortunately, I hadn't read this thread yet, so I tossed them (dummy--I should have realized that sugar will eventually melt, even when the pan looks like the Great Salt Lake). On the third batch, I added a little corn syrup, which did the trick and now I am the proud owner of two (er, one--had to taste test :raz: ) bottle of Rum Caramel Sauce.

Now that I've read all of this, I wish I hadn't washed away my "failures" but sugar is cheap (and I hadn't wasted my rum on them before I quit).
Feast then thy heart, for what the heart has had, the hand of no heir shall ever hold.

#102 cocoagirl

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Posted 11 December 2006 - 08:17 AM

I am sorry if this question has already been discussed. I am making Alain Ducasse's salty caramels- at 248 I poured and cooled. To sticky. I re-melted to 250. Cooled and still to sticky to form into caramels. Is their any point to re-melting to 255 or 260. Or has all the chemistry happened already and the caramel won't change texture at this point. This was a practice run.

#103 Patrick S

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Posted 11 December 2006 - 08:54 AM

I have successfully recooked a too-soft caramel, so it is possible.
"If you are irritated by every rub, how will you be polished?" - Rumi

#104 aguynamedrobert

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Posted 11 December 2006 - 12:23 PM

You can recook them but it seems like your temperatures are already way above where they would normally be...what elevation are you at? and are you sure your thermometer is working correctly?

You can always use the Ice water method to test if the caramel is done...when it is getting close to temp...take out the thermometer and then have a bowl of water and ice....with your spatula drip some caramel into the ice water and give it about 5-10 seconds...then go into the water with your hand and pick up the caramel...roll it around in your fingers...if you can form a soft-medium hard ball them you are done....

The water basically brings the temp down so you will see how hard the caramel will be when it is cooled....try it out...

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#105 cocoagirl

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Posted 11 December 2006 - 02:23 PM

You can recook them but it seems like your temperatures are already way above where they would normally be...what elevation are you at? and are you sure your thermometer is working correctly?

You can always use the Ice water method to test if the caramel is done...when it is getting close to temp...take out the thermometer and then have a bowl of water and ice....with your spatula drip some caramel into the ice water and give it about 5-10 seconds...then go into the water with your hand and pick up the caramel...roll it around in your fingers...if you can form a soft-medium hard ball them you are done....

The water basically brings the temp down so you will see how hard the caramel will be when it is cooled....try it out...

Robert
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Thanks- I had planned to check my thermometer last week and then forgot- and then I just went ahead and made the caramels. I will check tonight. At sea level.

#106 aguynamedrobert

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Posted 11 December 2006 - 05:09 PM

Okey Dokey...at sea level your caramels should end in a range of 236-245 F(roughly)....I usually end mine at about 238-240 F and they are perfect...unless you want a hard hard caramel I wouldn't go above the mid 240's...

Good Luck and let us know how the next batch turns out...
Robert
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#107 Desiderio

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Posted 11 December 2006 - 06:36 PM

I usually do remelt my caramels if they are too soft and cook them little higher.I live over 5000 feet above sea level ,a dn the sea salt caramels have to go at least at 248 ( wich is what the recipe calls for ) I tryed to do the math and recalculate the temperature at my level and it was like 9 degree lower , wich would give me a very very soft caramel .I do need to buy a couple of those good termometer that you put the end on the pan ( what are they called again )?
Vanessa

#108 tammylc

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 05:30 AM

Okey Dokey...at sea level your caramels should end in a range of 236-245 F(roughly)....I usually end mine at about 238-240 F and they are perfect...unless you want a hard hard caramel I wouldn't go above the mid 240's...

Good Luck and let us know how the next batch turns out...
Robert
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You must be using a very different recipe. I've found the 248 in that particular recipe to be the absolute minimum - usually I cook them to 250 to get the texture I'm looking for.

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#109 cocoagirl

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 07:44 AM

I cooked to almost 255 - they hardend some- however they were oily- should they be oily?

#110 aguynamedrobert

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 12:04 PM

hum....if they are oily then some of the fat might have seperated out...possibly...How much did they harden? enough for you to cut them in squares?

Yeah I always take my caramel to right below 240 Degrees and they hold their shape and they are soft....hum....I actually never have seem caramels taken up to temps that you guys are except for a place I worked for a while back and if you were one degree over the caramels would be rocks....hum....I'll have to make some to the degree you guys are saying and see how they look...

Robert
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#111 cocoagirl

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 12:21 PM

I could cut them into squares- but they were still pliable- hm...maybe I need to go to a chocolatier and buy a caramel- maybe I am expecting them to be something they are not- more solid like a kraft caramel- is that the texture - or are they supposed to be more unctious (sp.)

still I do believe you maybe right the fat may have separated out.

#112 Desiderio

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 12:41 PM

Posted Image


This how my caramels look before dipping , they hold their shape and arent greasy ( you still will have some fat since they are made with lots of fat anyway )I cook them at 248-250.
Vanessa

#113 cocoagirl

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 12:45 PM

Posted Image


This how my caramels look before dipping , they hold their shape and arent greasy ( you still will have some fat since they are made with lots of fat anyway )I cook them at 248-250.

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thank you- they are beautiful... and the picture really helps me see what they should be like ....I will re-attempt tonight to achieve that

#114 Desiderio

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 12:54 PM

I am sure they will come as you wanted them :smile: , never give up never surrender :laugh:
Vanessa

#115 aguynamedrobert

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 04:32 PM

Perfect...thanks for the pics...
Cocoagirl...just play around with the temps and you will find where it works for you and what certain temp you need to reach to get the hardness/softness you want...keep us posted...

Robert
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#116 John DePaula

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Posted 13 December 2006 - 08:56 AM

I am sorry if this question has already been discussed. I am making Alain Ducasse's salty caramels- at 248 I poured and cooled. To sticky.  I re-melted to 250.  Cooled and still to sticky to form into caramels.  Is their any point to re-melting to 255 or 260.  Or has all the chemistry happened already and the caramel won't change texture at this point.  This was a practice run.

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Have you read the Kendrick & Atkinson book Candymaking. It's a great reference and covers many of the basics of candymaking. I learned many good things from this book, especially about caramel making.

1) Don't cook the caramel too quickly. (med-hi temp is probably fine)
2) Be sure to mix in your fat well or otherwise it will separate out.
3) DON'T SCRAPE THE BOWL to get the late little bit out when you pour; otherwise, you'll get crystallization.

Hope this helps.
John DePaula
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When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

#117 cocoagirl

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 08:14 AM

thanks all for your help. I in the end did get a fairly firm and tasty caramel. Now to try a chocolate caramel. I do think the above is true- slow cook, less stirring and emptying the bowl. Thanks for the advice and encouragement.

Will keeping them in the fridge affect the texture if they are individually wrapped and then in a plastic sealed container.

#118 aguynamedrobert

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 01:45 PM

The caramels will last in the just normal room temp for a while....they have a lot of sugar in them and not so much water so they are safe to be out for a while...how long do you hope to store them for?

Robert
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#119 WhiteTruffleGirl

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 07:50 PM

I personally rarely measure the temp of my caramel. You really can tell what stage it's at just by the color. Next time you make it and get it to the right temp, just look at the color...memorize it. Eventually, you'll rarely need a candy thermometer for it.

I agree with the advice about low and slow...

#120 markg109

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Posted 02 March 2007 - 01:38 PM

Hi,

I'm new to the site. It looks great, lots of excellent advice. I'm new to candy making, when I'm making caramels can using them before they cool lead to crystallization? Iv'e had a few batches that come out of the pan looking great, I let them sit for a few hours, mould them, and the next day they are sugary, and grainy.

Also, how do you prevent them from sticking? I'm using a marble slate, oiling it slightly but they seem to stick to the marble.

Thanks,
Mark