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Elizabeth_11

Troubleshooting Caramels

265 posts in this topic

you might want to invest in a digital thermometer (probe-type)...sugar has to reach between 320-340 degrees to caramelize, it might help to have a thermometer because it's a lot higher than you think.

cream of tartar is probably a better choice of acid than vinegar or lemon juice because you don't want to change the flavor of the product. if you put the cream of tartar in the amount of water you want to use 24 hours beforehand, it'll dissolve and become clear before you add it to the sugar.

like everyone else said, adding more water won't affect the carmelization, it will all boil off beforehand. you can even do equal parts sugar and water.

but you definitely want to brush the sides of the pan down INITIALLY, once it gets boiling you don't need to do that. Don't shake the pan or stir it at all.

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Thank you all for taking the time to help me out with my question. I've read - and re-read - all of your comments, and I *think* I know how I will try the recipe again tomorrow. Tomorrow I won't be making it for an actual meal, so I won't be under the same pressure I was the other day and I can just keep at it until I get it.

I'll report back whether it goes well or not :)

In the meantime, if anyone else has any tips or tricks for caramelizing sugar, please feel free to share!

Bryan


Bryan Ochalla, a.k.a. "Techno Foodie"

http://technofoodie.blogspot.com/

"My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four. Unless there are three other people."

Orson Welles (1915 - 1985)

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Until you become comfortable making caramelized sugar, use more water to dissolve the sugar. This will increase the time that it takes to brown the sugar, but the process is much more forgiving. It is still a pretty fast process.

(Most old time chefs don’t use any water, just a tsp or so of lemon juice).

You can probably use the highest heat that your burners can generate. Just keep a close watch. Stir until all of the sugar is dissolved and the solution starts to boil.

Some times one can get hot spots in the pan that you are using. Spots where the sugar browns faster than others. If this happens, swirl the pan gently. Then wipe the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush. Keep an eye on the pan when browning starts, because things go very quickly once it starts.

When you add a liquid to your caramelized sugar, do it off of the heat. Stir your liquid in and add more as needed to control the consistency. Stir over a lower heat until all of the seized sugar dissolves. Caramelized sugar always seizes up, just stir and add enough liquid.

If you are making a savory sauce, once you add the recipes flavoring items, add water or some kind of low salt stock to control the final consistency. :wink:


-------------------------

Water Boils Roughly

Cold Eggs Coagulating

Egg Salad On Rye

-------------------------

Gregg Robinson

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Success!!! :)

Thanks to the suggestions made here, I FINALLY hit the mark with the caramel sauce today.

I made a smaller amount of the sauce today, so I only used 1/2 cup, but then put about 1/4 cup water with it in the saucepan. Heated that until it came to a boil (stirring on and off until then) and then reduced the temp a bit and let it simmer until it was a light amber. Heated the soy sauce before I added it to the caramel, and it was perfect! No seizing, even.

I'll keep at this method, but eventually will try to go it 'dry' :)

Thanks for all of your help!

Bryan


Bryan Ochalla, a.k.a. "Techno Foodie"

http://technofoodie.blogspot.com/

"My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four. Unless there are three other people."

Orson Welles (1915 - 1985)

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Woo Hoo!! That's great. Stick with whatever method you like since it all comes out the same in the end. And the next time someone says how easy it is to caramelize, roll your eyes....


Josette

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Bochalla,

Well done! To JSkilling's suggestion I would add: "roll your eyes..." and wear a smug grin!

Catherine

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Can anyone help me please.

When making Creme Caramel at home, it seldom was a problem when I was still in the business, my caramel in the ramequin will alway harden after proper baking. I like to see the syrupy caramel to run over my custard when inverted.

Bad Luck?


Peter

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I don't understand your question. Is the caramel staying hard even after baking and cooling?


It is good to be a BBQ Judge.

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I mean...heat makes caramel melt. Always. Are you hitting the bottom with a torch before inverting and unmolding?

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Woooooooo, you don't want to heat the bottom of your creme caramel as a release technique or a sugar melting technique.

You melt your sugar into liquid in your pot. Pour it into your ramakins, let it set (that happens in moments). Mix together you creme caramel, pour it in your sugar coated ramakin, then bake (in a water bath) and chill before unmolding/serving. To unmold run a knive around the inside of the ramakin to release the suction. Caramel should have turned to liquid. and pour out over your creme caramel.

Sometimes the sugar doesn't want to melt down as throughly a other times. I don't have a scientific answer for you on that. I just know I've encountered that. I believe it melts less well when you use a thicker coating of caramel. I also think the longer it sits in the cooler to chill the more caramel will turn to liquid with-in your ramakin.

If you've unmolded your creme caramel and you NEED more liquid you can solve that by cooking some caramel syrup seperately and drizzling it over you plate. I usually make seperate extra caramel because I like a consistant amount of caramel on all my plates.....and sometimes I spill some caramel when unmolding them, so extra is nice to have on hand.

To make caramel sauce, melt down your sugar as you did before, cook to caramel darkness you want. Thin with heated water (not cream) to the consistancy you want........which would be pretty thin for this item.

HTH?

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I also swirl the hot caramel up the sides of the ramekin (so that it is not all sittting as a thick layer on the bottom).

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The viscosity (i.e. hardness) of the caramel relates directly to it's water content.

Less water=more color=more rigid. So... cook it to the desired color and then add some water back to achieve a softer 'stage.' Getting the right amount of water will take some trial and error. If you use too much, the caramel will have a tendency to absorb into the custard.

I never use a thermometer when making creme caramel, but then I'm not too hung up on the final texture of the caramel. If you want a consistent texture, I'd carefully measure the water you add back to it (after reaching the desired color) as well as using a thermometer for the initial caramelization/water evaporation.

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Woooooooo, you don't want to heat the bottom of your creme caramel as a release technique or a sugar melting technique.

Really? That's what I've always done with flan or creme carmel. I hit it for a second with the torch, then poke a little hole with the pairing knife and remove the ramekin. Thats just the way I learned at the places I worked. In any case it works fine. I find that when I don't use the torch I will have mostly liquid caramel with one or two solid "films" that slide onto the plate or just look bad. Maybe I do something else wrong along the way...

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Woooooooo, you don't want to heat the bottom of your creme caramel as a release technique or a sugar melting technique.

Really? That's what I've always done with flan or creme carmel. I hit it for a second with the torch, then poke a little hole with the pairing knife and remove the ramekin. Thats just the way I learned at the places I worked. In any case it works fine. I find that when I don't use the torch I will have mostly liquid caramel with one or two solid "films" that slide onto the plate or just look bad. Maybe I do something else wrong along the way...

I'm sorry I didn't mean my comments to be a personal attack, not at all. I was thinking of the beginning pastry person and worried they would take your dirrections too literally and not understand the fine nueances needed to work as you do.

Don't you agree that you shouldn't serve molten caramel to a diner? If your heating the caramel to liquify it..........your making molten caramel, no? Yes, it will cool down, but them it will harden back up and be very hard to eat.

You also are heating up the custard............they could scramble the outside edges of it, no?

It's fairly hard to handle a hot little ramakin while unmolding it. Time consuming if your unmolding several at the same time.

I agree that your technique if done with skill and so your just warming up the ramakin and not firing it like pottery to turn the sugar into hot molten liquid will work fine. In fact, I find this very interesting and I'd like to learn more about this from you. Any chance you would explain it further? I sincerely meant no offense or disrespect............please accept my appologies, my wording was in appropriate.

After seeing your second post on the topic where you mention your just warming the dish I see that I misunderstood.

I don't understand what you mean by "films"........would you please explain?

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Hey, no harm done. I didn't take it in a negative way at all.

Firstly I'm thinking of one specific restaurant and one specific flan when I mention "film". I only use that word because its a paper-thin layer of caramel closest to the ramekin that does't stay liquid. So if I just ran a knife around the ramekin and unmolded, there it would be (more often then not), cracking and sliding. It might have had something to do with the caramel and custard mixing a little, for all I know...I never really gave it a serious thought until now. Also I can't pretend to be a qaulified expert on flan by any means!

In any case, it was decided we would just invert, hit it briefly with the torch and then unmold, to avoid that little problem. When I mention poking a hole in the bottom (while inverted) thats just to break the vaccuum so it unmolds quick and easy. I always do that if I have a dessert thats known to like to cling to the ramekin. I kinda insert the tip of the pairing knife at an almost horizontal angle, then push the handle down so the tip of the knife raises a little "lip" allowing air to release. Heh, I'm making it sound really complicated when in reality it happens in about .5 seconds.

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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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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.

Welcome!

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

Hope this helps!

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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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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.

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

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

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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

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

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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.


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

Many thanks

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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:

gallery_23736_355_11587.jpg

gallery_23736_355_9664.jpg

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.

gallery_23736_355_8338.jpg

gallery_23736_355_2998.jpg


"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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