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Elizabeth_11

Troubleshooting Caramels

265 posts in this topic

Hi, Tarek,

Nope ..nothing more. Just let it sit out and cool and firm up. Once it's completely set up (will take at least a few hours-I usually wait until the next day), cut into squares and wrap each in a square of waxed paper. (You can buy pre-cut squares of waxed paper just for this purpose - or make your own). I usually take the whole thing out of the pan and then cut it into squares.

Hope that helps! If you make them, let me know how they turn out :)

--Jan

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Two things.......

One....JanKK, where can I buy the pre cut wax paper. That's cool.

Two.....what do you called twice boiled, a little burned, a little chewy, a little hard, a little brittle caramel? TOFFEE??

Whatever you call it.......that's what I've got. The wife said she could run it through the food processor and put it over ice cream. Anyway, I'm working on it right now. It's still good, just not carame. If it were thin as paper, it would really be good. So what have I got?

Joe


You gonna eat that?

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Joe .....I buy mine at Maid of Scandanavia (also known as Sweet Celebrations). There store is in Minnesota, but they also have a mail order catalog. They do have a website also -- I don't believe they have true online ordering, but you can call or email for stuff.

Sweet Celebrations

--Jan

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Hi,

Two things....real quick.

First, I want to thank those of you that responded to my questions. I appreciate it.

Secondly, what if I want to make just caramel SAUCE? Ya know, like they offer in coffeehouses to go in your latte or some froo froo drink. Can I use my same great recipe and cook it for a shorter period of time (or to a lower temperature)?

You can see I'm trying to look at this logically, but I'll probably miss something.

I made another batch of caramel last night. Ya'll should all give me your addresses and I'll send you all some. Oh sure...if you're reading this, you can likely make your own, eh? Don't forget my question.....how do I properly make sauce?

Thanks!

Bob


You gonna eat that?

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Hard to say without seeing your recipe. But a sauce is generally just the caramelized sugar, enough cream to get the right thickness and then any flavor additives (butter, alcohol, etc.) but no extra cooking beyond the caramelization aside from stirring over low heat after adding the cream to melt down what siezes up when you add the cream.


Edited by kthull (log)

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no experience in this domain

would love advice re foolproof recipe as base for elaborations

also re storage temperature and packaging

any good sources

thanks for help as always

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Chef,

i'm not sure what kind of caramels you're talking about.

Can you elaborate?

Thanks.


2317/5000

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old school straight up toffee cooked sugar cream butter

chewy and wrapped to send home

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I make mine from memory, passed down from an aunt. Just made a double batch so i could send some to my son who's in Marine Corps boot camp (San Diego). He said he's allowed to receive a small package of treats for Thanksgiving and one for X-mas. Boy they have gotten easy in the Corps the only thing we were allowed were letters. Anyways here it is.

Fern's caramels

2 cups of corn syrup

2 cups of sugar

1/2 stick of unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups heavy cream

Mix the corn syrup and sugar in a large heavy bottomed pan. Heat this starting on low till it's a liquid and clear then raise heat to med-high and cook until 305 degrees farenheit on a candy therm. Lower heat to med or slightly lower. Now add 1/2 stick of unsalted butter and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. A half stick of reg butter will do in a pinch. Since i always make double batches, i can then use a whole stick of unsalted at a time. When butter has melted add 2 cups of scalded heavy cream or whipping cream. It foams or frothes up at least double sometimes more so make sure you start with a pot that is heavy bottomed and at least three times the volume of the ingredients, in this case a little over 6 cups. Stir this occasionally until therm reads 248 degrees f. Remove immediatly from heat and let sit for 3 to 5 minutes so bubbles leave the caramel. Now pour into a greased baking pan 8x8 or 9x9 or cookie sheet with sides if you want the caramels thinner and let cool. Remove sheet of caramel from baking pan and cut into desired size and wrap in wax paper squares. This recipe will make about 70 to 80 bite sized caramels and will last less than a day.

If you like caramels that are softer and chewier cooking to slightly less than 248 will be what you want, if you like em hard then try 250 degrees f. Be warned though making candy is a dodgy business and 1 or 2 degrees can and will make a huge difference. I remove my pan from the heat at 247 degrees f and place it immediatly on top of the our granite countertop, but a upside down cast iron pan is what i used to use. This helps to stop the cooking and pull residual heat out of the bottom of the pan. If you like more of a caramel flavor in your caramels then heat the sugar mixture to a bit more than 305 deg f, my last batch was 310 deg f and you could really taste the difference.

Fern(my aunt) would make 2 or 3 double batches of these for us guys at deer hunting camp and never measured. Except for the cream which she bought in pint cartons and it came premeasured. She also didn't use a candy therm, but let drops of the candy fall into cold water then tested the consistency with her fingers. I brought a candy themometer to deer camp about 10 years ago and measured the temps and over the years i've adj the recipe to what us and the kids like best.


A island in a lake, on a island in a lake, is where my house would be if I won the lottery.

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good recipe in alain ducasse grande livre

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I had a go at some fleur de sel caramels a couple of weekends ago from a recipe in a recent Gourmet magazine (here). I'm of the opinion that using fleur de sel is overkill: in my opnion, the nice briny taste of the is gone the instant it hits the cream and butter. That said, the recipe seems to have the level of salt spot on (it is nearly double what I had seen in other recipes). The extra salt helps the flavor seem more well rounded and rich.

I cooked the caramel so that it was a bit too warm and they were slightly harder than I wanted. We still happily ate or gave away every last one. I'd shoot for the 248 as AgaCooker suggests (I ended up a bit on the strong side of 250 degF).


Stephen Bunge

St Paul, MN

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I have two types of hand-dipped caramels in my current chocolate selection, which means, of course, that I find myself making caramels fairly often. One thing I've noted over the past year or so, is that the speed at which I bring it up to temperature seems to affect the firmness of the caramel - the longer it takes, the firmer the finished candy. What I don't understand is why this should be so. Is it an evaporation issue? Something else? And what is the ideal length of time I should shoot for anyway? I know there must be someone around here who knows.

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I've noticed differences too. If you go back and look thru candy making books all of them point out the heat shouldn't be on high. I think your thoughts on evaporation would be the most logical answer.

I don't think you can shoot for a time frame because your batch size will make a huge difference. I believe that using a moderate flame should be your time guide.

But.......lets see, perhaps someone will have the exact knowledge on this.

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Well, I certainly don't have any expert knowledge, but I do have the following observation.

One day I was having particular trouble with making a caramel recipe and burned it twice. So the third time I cooked it really slowly. Very slow. It didn't burn and came out the proper hue, but then as it cooled I noticed it was much more firm than usual.

Maybe someone can explain why, but for now I'll keep cooking at medium or medium/high.

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Thanks for the replies. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who's noticed this. I've tried looking for answers as to why, but none of my books seem to cover it, and internet searches have revealed little.

I hadn't thought about batch sizes, but you're right, when I double it does change things.

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I don't have any particularly useful knowledge to share, but I'll add there's a coloration thing that goes on too. When boiling sugar for pulling/blowing, the faster you can bring the syrup up to temp, the whiter the finished product will be. I don't know why, except that possibly some of the sugar molecules are caramelizing at a lower temp than others, and the faster you can come up to the right stage with your syrup, the fewer of them will do that. Dunno.

I'm guessing something similar is happening with the firmness (firmth? -- we don't say warmness, now do we?) of the caramel. But I don't know enough about the interactions going to know what exactly.

Also, apropos of not much, did you realize that the slower you cook a custard, the lower the setting point will be? Related? Dunno.

Where's a good food scientist when you need one? :raz:


B. Keith Ryder

BCakes by BKeith

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Perhaps this is related, but the recipe I use for nut brittle calls for adding lots of extra water (2 c. water to 3 c. sugar and 1.5 c. corn syrup) and then boiling it off. This is much more water than would be needed to simply dissolve the sugar, and takes a while (30 minutes or so) to reduce to the point where most of the water is gone. However, it does turn out very crunchy, and not especially sticky. Is this in McGee's book, maybe?

Walt


Walt Nissen -- Livermore, CA

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Interesting. I didn't know that about sugar coloration or custard. taht implies that it is more than just an evaporation issue, I guess.

Hmmm, now I'm really curious. I'm going to continue sleuthing.

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the evaporation shouldn't have anything to do with it because long before the caramel stage all of the water is cooked out. The only reason for the water is to ensure a more thorough reduction withought burning the sugar. That is done by dissolving the sugar in water. Many people, even I at certain times of the year, make large batches of simple syrup by refineing and purifying the syrup through a coupl of stages of boiling and filter to get all the impurities out of the sugar and most of all the water (the water where i live is very very bad). I'll use that same syrup for any sugar jobs I have to do and store it in the refrigerator.

What I see happening is that your pan you use does not conduct heat evenly, like a thick iron/steel pan or copper pan. So whats happening when you boil rapidly is some parts, usually a small ring where the heat is at its greatest, is caramilizing quicker than the rest and is "dyeing" its surroundings with the dark color, so all your sugar is the same color but does not carry equal strength characteristics. So when mixed slightly while dipping and using or whatever the strength is reduced and uneven but still carrys a rich color and flavor.

When using low heat the pan has more reaction time to heat all its particals together evenly and thus transfering that heat to the syrup evenly.

An induction range/burner is great to use because it "electronically" distributes heat evenly all of the surface, unlike a flame, i like to use them most.


Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

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But I don't add any water. I'm talking about chewy caramels, where the sugars are first caramelized, then you add cream and butter and bring it back up to an appropriate caramelization temperature. The liquid boiling off is from the cream.

Your idea about uneven heating is interesting. Once I add the cream I stir constantly, so that should alleviate uneven heating problems, no? Anyway, the color isn't what concerns me so much as the fact that taking the caramel up to the exact same temperature still yeilds a harder or softer finished product depending on the speed at which it gets there. Perhaps your explanation still holds, though - with high heat, even with constant stirring, some of it is bound to get better "cooked" than others?

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Is this in McGee's book, maybe?

I've been reading McGee's new edition and it's enlightening me to all kinds of fancy molecular goings-on in foods that I never really suspected. I don't think he addresses this particular topic--I wish we could get him back for some more Q & A. But the chemical changes he does describe in sugars as they cook make me think that, indeed, things are isomerizing, or polymerizing, or polymers are being broken down, or something chemical is going on that is responsible for the difference in texture.

But I'm really just spectulating. :wink:

Fern

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oh ok, i appologize, i was under a completely different understanding.

in theory i do beleive many of my theories still stand considering once the products temp comes to softball the temperature is much higher than that of which water boils, so again all of the water should have evaporated by 230 degrees.

I have no other thoughts than what i have already stated.


Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

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No appologies necessary. I take your points, and I agree.

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oh ok, i appologize, i was under a completely different understanding.

in theory i do beleive many of my theories still stand considering once the products temp comes to softball the temperature is much higher than that of which water boils, so again all of the water should have evaporated by 230 degrees.

I have no other thoughts than what i have already stated.

I don't recall off the top of my head at what temp the water is all gone, but it's much higher than 230F. True, pure water would be all gone by the time you reach 230 degrees, but when you start dissolving things in water, you get compounds that don't behave exactly like either of the original bits. Same principle is behind the fact that when you cook/bake with liquor, all the alcohol doesn't necessarily cook out right away, even though the boiling point of alcohol is much lower than that of water.

I'm sure there's still some amount of water in the mix even as the temperature approaches 300F. I'm also pretty sure that the water is pretty much gone before true caramelization starts at around 320F.

Have to dig through Magee to find the actual numbers.


B. Keith Ryder

BCakes by BKeith

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