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Brown sugar caramels (including butterscotch)


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#1 lebowits

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Posted 02 February 2014 - 02:32 PM

I've been thinking about caramel recently, and specifically about butterscotch.  I've not found much on the topic as a unique confection but came across a a reference to a butterscotch sauce in MIchael Ruhelman's "Ratio" app for the iPhone.  In this, he states that butterscotch is a variation on a traditional caramel (sauce) that uses brown sugar instead of white sugar, and that it also has a significant amount of butter. 

 

The app claims that the ratio for a butterscotch sauce is; 1 part brown sugar, 1 part cream, and 1/2 part butter.  The method is the cook the sugar and butter together and then to quench with warmed cream.  I used a "dry cook" method by adding a bit of lemon juice to the brown sugar.  I'm guessing that cream of tartar might be more effective to prevent crystallization (or some glucose).

 

For my first test batch, I cut back on the cream by 25% so that the resulting caramel would be more viscous for use in a chocolate bon bon.  The consistency came out fine, but the flavor lacked something.

 

First, I'd like to ask; How do you know that the brown sugar is cooked to "caramel" without measuring a temperature?  White sugar clearly darkens when cooking, but brown sugar is already rather dark at the start.

 

Do you make brown sugar caramel or butterscotch?  Any advice?


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#2 Dave the Cook

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Posted 02 February 2014 - 03:19 PM

Funny, I started to read your post, and realized that I didn't know exactly what butterscotch was -- only that I didn't remember brown sugar being in the mix. So before reading further, I consulted James Peterson's Sauces, where I found this: 

 

 

. . . similar to caramel sauce except that butter is cooked along with the sugar, so that the milk solids caramelize and impart the characteristic flavor of noisette butter to the sauce.

 

I will say that a google search turns up a lot of recipes that call for brown sugar, so maybe Peterson is the odd man out (though I've found him to be extremely reliable). With respect to your observation ''but the flavor lacked something,'' Peterson goes on:

 

 

Some recipes use brown sugar to give the sauce a deeper color and flavor, but brown sugar also tends to obscure the flavor of the butter, which is what makes butterscotch sauce so delicious.

 

On the other hand, Peterson omits salt, which some people say is crucial. 

 

So, a couple of possibilities?


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#3 David Hensley

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Posted 02 February 2014 - 06:31 PM

I've actually just recently figured this out for myself, and I'm proud to share my discoveries!

 

The "butterscotch" flavor you're looking for is a combination of both caramelized brown sugar, and the beurre noisette flavor that Dave the Cook mentions.

 

Start your measure of butter to melt, but before it clarifies, add your full measure of brown sugar. Cook this until the butter "clarifies" itself within the sugar. At this point, the whole mixture will begin to smell right, but continue to cook for a few minutes longer, until the aroma becomes intense. At first, the mix will appear oily and seperated, but keep cooking, and stirring, until the aroma begins to fully manifest. Add your whole measure of cream at this point, and stand back (unless you enjoy facial blisters, that is!) and continue whisking, until combined and viscous....

 

add just a few drops of vanilla, and...

 

goodness...


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#4 keychris

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 02:03 AM

and stand back (unless you enjoy facial blisters, that is!)

 

It's not a good day in the kitchen until you've had facial blisters, huh :p



#5 lebowits

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 12:42 PM

Thanks for the suggestions everyone.  I look forward to getting this right!  Does anyone have experiences that differ from the ratio of ingredients I mentioned, or do you think their about right?


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Slicing a warm slab of bacon is a lot like giving a ferret a shave. No matter how careful you are, somebody's going to get hurt - Alton Brown, "Good Eats"

#6 lebowits

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Posted 17 March 2014 - 06:54 AM

I think I figured this one out.  Here is a formula for what my taste testers have called a successful batch.  This is a small batch and I need to double it for production use.

 

150 grams cream

    1 vanilla bean, scraped

200 grams brown sugar (light or dark doesn't seem to matter though I used light)

        lemon juice

  50 grams glucose syrup

100 grams butter, unsalted

 

Combine the cream and vanilla bean into a small pot and put over a low flame to come to a simmer slowly

 

In a pot, combine the brown sugar with just enough lemon juice to moisten and combine to get a "sandy" texture

 

Add glucose to the brown sugar

 

Bring the sugar mixture to a boil over high heat stirring continuously.  The sugar will foam and it will be difficult to see when it melts and caramelizes

 

Use a candy or IR thermometer and continue to cook the sugar until it reaches approximately 320F (160C)

 

Add the butter and stir until the butter is completely melted and combined

 

Add the warm cream being careful not to burn yourself as the water boils off, stirring to combine completely.  Continue stirring until you're sure that you have a smooth mixture and that all the sugars are full melted

 

Remove from heat and pour into a pan to cool.  Let the caramel cool until room temperature before piping into prepared molds.


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#7 Prabha

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Posted 17 March 2014 - 01:45 PM

Your caramel does sound really good! Coincidentally, I just read Ruhlman's book, and have been thinking of trying the recipe he gives.



#8 Tri2Cook

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Posted 17 March 2014 - 03:44 PM

I think I figured this one out.  Here is a formula for what my taste testers have called a successful batch.

Thanks for sharing. I'm definitely going to give it a try.


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#9 lebowits

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 08:30 AM

Your caramel does sound really good! Coincidentally, I just read Ruhlman's book, and have been thinking of trying the recipe he gives.

"Ruhlman's Twenty"?


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Slicing a warm slab of bacon is a lot like giving a ferret a shave. No matter how careful you are, somebody's going to get hurt - Alton Brown, "Good Eats"