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Troubleshooting Caramels


Elizabeth_11
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On 9/16/2018 at 7:40 PM, Chocolot said:

To get the color darker and flavor stronger, just cook it longer. So when the temp goes too high, add a little water to drop it down. Try to not let it stop boiling when you do this. You can keep doing this for a long time and get it to the color you want. Glucose interferes with browning, baking soda increases browning. You can cook caramel for hours this way. Just remember that the longer you cook it, the more sugar is inverted. 

 

It makes sense that cooking the caramel longer (with the addition of a little water as necessary) would darken the color and increase the caramel flavor, but does the baking soda add more caramel flavor or does it just darken the color and thus is a "cosmetic" effect?

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It responds fairly quickly,  but, what I do is raise the temp slowly as I’m cooking.  If I do that, when I get close to the 150 F mark, then I stop raising the temp for about 15 minutes to allow the Maillard to kick in.  

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Edit3: just found a post with identical issue to mine (

) sorry for posting too soon x)

 

Need help please - caramel released water?

 

I made caramel a few days ago - was a success, creamy, smooth caramel (sugar, water, cream).

 

Today I decided I wanted to add salt to it, so I heated it up and added salt. The thing is, the salt hadn't dissolved properly, and I'm not sure why? Any ideas?

As the caramel cooled down, I was left with really gooey caramel and found a layer of liquid when I tilted the pan. I heated it back up and whisked it back together so its a saucey consistency once again, but I'm afraid it'll just separate again once it reaches room temperature.

Is it possible to add salt after already adding cream and cooking it back up so it thickens a bit, ir is there not enough water to dissolve the salt at that point?

 

Can I do anything to save it if it separates again?

 

Edit: yup, it's still there.. looks like condensation on caramel :/

 

Edit2: oh no, no that I'm reading about caramel everyone is so cautious about the humidity?.... I was firstly heating it in a thin pan, and it seemed like it was heating too fast so I decided to use a double boiler method (but with the bottom dunked in the boiling water, to not let it go above 100C)...this might have caused it?

I'm still struggling to understand though, why it absorbs water and melts nicely after heating up, but then starts to separate? There must be some sugar chemistry reason behind it that I don't understand (I would love to though if anyone could explain)

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3 hours ago, Yoda said:

Edit3: just found a post with identical issue to mine (

) sorry for posting too soon x)

 

Need help please - caramel released water?

 

I made caramel a few days ago - was a success, creamy, smooth caramel (sugar, water, cream).

 

Today I decided I wanted to add salt to it, so I heated it up and added salt. The thing is, the salt hadn't dissolved properly, and I'm not sure why? Any ideas?

As the caramel cooled down, I was left with really gooey caramel and found a layer of liquid when I tilted the pan. I heated it back up and whisked it back together so its a saucey consistency once again, but I'm afraid it'll just separate again once it reaches room temperature.

Is it possible to add salt after already adding cream and cooking it back up so it thickens a bit, ir is there not enough water to dissolve the salt at that point?

 

Can I do anything to save it if it separates again?

 

Edit: yup, it's still there.. looks like condensation on caramel :/

 

Edit2: oh no, no that I'm reading about caramel everyone is so cautious about the humidity?.... I was firstly heating it in a thin pan, and it seemed like it was heating too fast so I decided to use a double boiler method (but with the bottom dunked in the boiling water, to not let it go above 100C)...this might have caused it?

I'm still struggling to understand though, why it absorbs water and melts nicely after heating up, but then starts to separate? There must be some sugar chemistry reason behind it that I don't understand (I would love to though if anyone could explain)

 

Are you sure the separated layer isn't butter?  If it is, I used to encounter this issue often.  Then I learned on eGullet about the necessity of emulsifying the caramel and the butter--mixing water and fat, much like a ganache.  Now I add the butter soon after the caramel is removed from the heat and use an immersion blender to beat it in.  I haven't had separation since I started doing that.  You will need a sturdy immersion blender for the emulsification.  There shouldn't be a problem with reheating caramel and adding salt.  Perhaps you didn't get it hot enough to melt the salt?  I myself don't mind a little salty crunch in the caramel, especially if it's a nice-tasting sea salt. 

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2 hours ago, Jim D. said:

 

Are you sure the separated layer isn't butter?  If it is, I used to encounter this issue often.  Then I learned on eGullet about the necessity of emulsifying the caramel and the butter--mixing water and fat, much like a ganache.  Now I add the butter soon after the caramel is removed from the heat and use an immersion blender to beat it in.  I haven't had separation since I started doing that.  You will need a sturdy immersion blender for the emulsification.  There shouldn't be a problem with reheating caramel and adding salt.  Perhaps you didn't get it hot enough to melt the salt?  I myself don't mind a little salty crunch in the caramel, especially if it's a nice-tasting sea salt. 

It couldn't have been butter because I didn't add any, but it could have been fat from the cream?

I added sugar and a bit of water, melted and heated to dark amber colour, took it off the heat and poured about 1/2 of the room temp cream in, stirred well and added the rest when the bubbling slowed down, stirred and transferred until cooled. And it was all good until I heated it back up today - the separation surprised me after coming back to check on it to see if it has cooled down -.-

2 hours ago, Jim D. said:

I used to encounter this issue often.

I've read the whole story, in the thread I linked to, about your pineapple puree endeavors. 

I didn't know this was even a thing. Every recipe/video I've seen on making caramel made it seem so easy - and I was so pleased when I managed to actually make it. A few days later I thought I'd add in salt and bam xD I learned something new - that separation could happen. But I'm still not sure I understand what caused it in mine, since it was homogenous before reheating.

2 hours ago, Jim D. said:

Now I add the butter soon after the caramel is removed from the heat and use an immersion blender to beat it in.

Do you blend while it's still hot?

Have you ever tried it after the separation already occurred? I wonder if it would work if you heat it back up and blend.

Edit: After getting back to the comment on salvaging separated caramel (from pastrygirl) I see this is exactly what pastrygirl alredy suggested - using an immersion blender after bringing back to boil (it must have clung to my memory in the background x)) but just slipped my mind when writing this comment.

I didn't use an immersion blender after boiling because I had such little amount of caramel it wouldn't even have been possible.

 

In the end I did as @pastrygirl suggested in the linked post. I added water and brought it back up to boiling.

That did help so thanks pastrygirl :)

A veery thin layer on top remained after cooling down - not even layer as much as some droplets but it fixed it to the point I'm ok with it. I didn't know further cooking would darken the color also - I thought that only happens when there's so little water in the caramel that it reaches way higher temperatures..

Oh, I think the salt has dissolved nicely when boiling for a minute too. I might not mind the grains of salt that much also, I just wanted to get it all melted since that was my plan so I guess it was a matter of stubbornness xD

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31 minutes ago, Yoda said:

It couldn't have been butter because I didn't add any, but it could have been fat from the cream?

I added sugar and a bit of water, melted and heated to dark amber colour, took it off the heat and poured about 1/2 of the room temp cream in, stirred well and added the rest when the bubbling slowed down, stirred and transferred until cooled. And it was all good until I heated it back up today - the separation surprised me after coming back to check on it to see if it has cooled down -.-

I've read the whole story, in the thread I linked to, about your pineapple puree endeavors. 

I didn't know this was even a thing. Every recipe/video I've seen on making caramel made it seem so easy - and I was so pleased when I managed to actually make it. A few days later I thought I'd add in salt and bam xD I learned something new - that separation could happen. But I'm still not sure I understand what caused it in mine, since it was homogenous before reheating.

Do you blend while it's still hot?

Have you ever tried it after the separation already occurred? I wonder if it would work if you heat it back up and blend.

Edit: After getting back to the comment on salvaging separated caramel (from pastrygirl) I see this is exactly what pastrygirl alredy suggested - using an immersion blender after bringing back to boil (it must have clung to my memory in the background x)) but just slipped my mind when writing this comment.

I didn't use an immersion blender after boiling because I had such little amount of caramel it wouldn't even have been possible.

 

In the end I did as @pastrygirl suggested in the linked post. I added water and brought it back up to boiling.

That did help so thanks pastrygirl :)

A veery thin layer on top remained after cooling down - not even layer as much as some droplets but it fixed it to the point I'm ok with it. I didn't know further cooking would darken the color also - I thought that only happens when there's so little water in the caramel that it reaches way higher temperatures..

Oh, I think the salt has dissolved nicely when boiling for a minute too. I might not mind the grains of salt that much also, I just wanted to get it all melted since that was my plan so I guess it was a matter of stubbornness xD

 

The separation doesn't always happen.  I use a recipe for orange balsamic caramel from William Curley that calls for a huge amount of butter, and it has never separated (and I don't even have to use a blender on it).  So there are mysteries in all this business.  In theory it could have been the cream that separated.   Were you using a particularly high-fat cream or do you live in a place where the fat percentage is normally high?  One other idea:  if you heat the cream before adding it to the hot caramel, the whole process will take less time.  I don't know if the temp of the cream affects the emulsion or not.

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21 minutes ago, Jim D. said:

Were you using a particularly high-fat cream

It's 35% fat (the usual I guess).

Whatever it was, I'm glad adding water and reboiling solved the separation and the undissolved salt x)

25 minutes ago, Jim D. said:

One other idea:  if you heat the cream before adding it to the hot caramel, the whole process will take less time.  I don't know if the temp of the cream affects the emulsion or not.

Not sure either, I followed the recipe that called for room temp cream. But I've seen some videos of chefs bringing the cream to a simmer before adding to caramel also (I wondered why some heat others not, but hadn't really dug into it yet..maybe as an assurance to prevent it from seizing? Or maybe it's just a matter of preference and habit). 

 

After reading all the possible reasons for separation, it might have been either the temperature shock from using a thin pot for reheating or humidity from using a double boiler (with bottom of pot submerged). Who knows..

 

But since the separation happened days later, only after cooling from reheating - I think I should be fine next time if I add the salt in when I pour in the cream (fingers crossed). And to be on the safe side, I'll use an immersion blender next time if I make a large enough batch x)

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