Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Bentley

Caramel separated....what happened?

Recommended Posts

I was making a cherry caramel - similar to Grewling's raspberry caramel, but with cherry puree - and the end result was a mess.  There was an enormous amount of separation between what I assume is the butter and the sugar with a large pool of oil/butterfat on top of the caramel.  Its my first time making a caramel with fruit puree but I've made caramel before a million times and never seen this.  I added the puree when the caramel was at 234 degrees and the puree was preheated to a little over 140 degree.  The whole mixture came down to around 220 degrees and then I cooked back to 240.   See the picture below.  What likely happened here? Is it repairable?

IMG_1875.JPG


Edited by Bentley (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What happened is, sugar is a fickle mistress!  I'd give repairing it a shot, add a little water and heat it back to bubbling then carefully blend with an immersion blender and cook to temp.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have exactly this same issue, as discussed in this thread:

After taking pastrygirl's advice not to stir the caramel as it cools, I had success.  But last week the separation happened again--this time after I had piped the caramel into molds.  All could do at that point was take corners of paper towels and soak up the butter.  It worked, and you couldn't tell once the bonbon was sealed, but this is no way to make caramel/butterscotch with confidence.  I have yet to see a definitive explanation--aside from pastrygirl's "sugar is a fickle mistress" diagnosis.  As I said in the other thread, changing the time when you add the butter does not seem to make a difference: most recipes say to wait until the caramel has cooled a bit, but William Curley's orange balsamic caramel calls for adding it immediately after the caramel is removed from the stove--and it works without a hitch.  Sometimes I have had luck with the advice pastrygirl gave above (reheating, reblending carefully).  But we need some science here.  Peter Greweling doesn't even mention the separation of butter in his chart of "Defects in Noncrystalline Confections."

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This isn't an issue I've (thankfully) encountered before, but I did find this online:

http://candy.about.com/od/carameltoffee/f/separate_faq.htm

It lists separation as potentially being caused by:

- abrupt temperature shift

- not melting everything evenly at the start (medium/low heat)

- not constantly stirring if the recipe calls for it

- hot spots caused by too thin a bottom on your pan

- humidity

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gap,

Thanks for providing that list.  But I had to suppress a laugh at all the possibilities.  The list is a bit like people who, when faced with questions about why chocolates don't always drop out of the mold, say "it might have been the humidity, the room might have been too cold (or too warm), your hands might be too warm, your chocolate might be old, your thermometer might be broken."  In the case of the butterscotch I was working on (in the other thread), I have abandoned the recipe and will work on an alternative still using brown sugar but giving up on the browned butter, which may or may not have been the culprit.  So you have never had this separation happen?  Must be the climate in Australia.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does your recipe call for a lot of fat?  Perhaps you could try adding some lecithin to help everything come together next time.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The recipe is 400 g cream, 200g sugar, 210g glucose, 105 g butter and vanilla to that I added 200g of cherry puree (unreduced).  Half of the cream is combined with the sugar, glucose and butter and melted over med-high heat while stirring until smooth.  Once melted and smooth, stop stirring and cook to 244.  Then add in the remaining cream, cook to 234, add puree then cook to 240.  I have made the recipe before with out the puree (adding a bit more cream) and had no problems.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think of my butterscotch recipe as containing an unusually high amount of fat.  It has 150g cream, 100g butter, 200g brown sugar, 50g glucose.  The orange caramel recipe to which I referred earlier has 200g liquid (cream + orange juice), 200g butter, 380g sugar, 40g glucose.


Edited by Jim D. (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Bentley said:

The recipe is 400 g cream, 200g sugar, 210g glucose, 105 g butter and vanilla to that I added 200g of cherry puree (unreduced).  Half of the cream is combined with the sugar, glucose and butter and melted over med-high heat while stirring until smooth.  Once melted and smooth, stop stirring and cook to 244.  Then add in the remaining cream, cook to 234, add puree then cook to 240.  I have made the recipe before with out the puree (adding a bit more cream) and had no problems.  

 

Is there a reason to add the cream and fruit in two steps?  I'd be inclined to heat the other half of the cream and the fruit together and add them all at once. Hmm, I should try some fruity caramels..,

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To be honest, I'm not sure.  The basic caramel recipe is my own, but in Greweling's recipe for raspberry caramels, he says to add the puree when the mixture reaches 234 - so that's what I tried for the cherry puree.  His recipe doesn't divide the cream in 2 parts.  He adds it all in the beginning.  The only thing I can think of is that adding the puree later preserves the fruit flavor and prevents it from burning from cooking too long at high temps.  I may give it a try using his recipe, which is very different from mine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, pastrygirl said:

@Bentley so you're doing soft caramels (fresh dairy products) p212, raspberry variation?

That's the one I'm looking at, but it's not the one I used.  I referenced it to get an idea of how much puree to use and when to add it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My last batch of salted caramel sauce separated in the fridge and I particularly like Jim D's response above.  I'll just carry on as if nothing has happened and not change anything.

 

 


Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

Cheers & Chocolates

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, it happened again.  I made Wybauw's caramelized pineapple.  All was well, but as it cooled, the fat from the cream (I assume) formed a pool in the pan (no butter had been added at this point).  I have made this recipe 3-4 times without incident.  With an immersion blender I added the butter and some additional pineapple.  Again all looked well, but I came back later to find it separated once more.  In desperation (what did I have to lose?) I put the solid part of the caramel in the food processor.  I added the fat little by little; it mixed in a bit but not enough.  I then added skim milk (the trick I have used for fixing ganache) and processed some more.  A very nice caramel formed--and stayed formed.  The problem, however, was that the skim milk had made the caramel too loose.  At that point I was afraid of heating it again (which would have been the obvious thing to do), so added some cocoa butter (from the Eztemper machine).  It thickened enough to give me some hope, but it was very soft.  I put a little in the freezer to see what would happen, and it did get reasonably thick.  So I went ahead and piped the stuff into shells.  I will probably refrigerate it for a while to see if that helps.  The only consolation is that the caramel tastes delicious, but overall not a happy day in the caramel factory.


Edited by Jim D. (log)
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dear Jim D.,

 

And so we live to fight another day.

 

all best, Darienne


Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

Cheers & Chocolates

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought I should post an update on my caramel adventures:  I tried Wybauw's pineapple recipe once again.  It seemed to take forever to reach the proper temp/thickness.  I stirred like mad to prevent scorching, but when it finally got to temp, it had a slight burnt smell and almost no pineapple aroma.  As it sat, the fat from the cream (it couldn't have been butter since I had not added that yet) separated as it had previously.  I hurriedly consulted my records (a deadline was approaching) and found a passion fruit caramel from Kerry Beal (which incorporates some white chocolate) and used that recipe with pineapple.  It worked, and the pineapple flavor was quite pronounced (the whole point of this endeavor).  To top it off, at the July 4 party, it received more positive comments than any other of the 9 flavors.

 

Still I wanted to know what happened, and I think I may have found a clue:  Kerry's recipe for regular caramel (not using any chocolate) calls for 460g sugar (310 sucrose, 150 glucose) + 250g cream.  Ewald Notter's has 350g total sugar + 345g cream.  Wybauw's recipe in question contains 350g total sugar + 460g liquid (cream + pineapple purée).  It is the only one that has so much liquid and therefore required so long a cooking time.  No wonder the pineapple flavor was gone and the sugar scorched--or that's my theory.  It is possible the longer cooking time somehow caused the fat to separate, but I don't have the scientific expertise to know why that might have occurred.  In any event, I bought more pineapple (I am stubborn at times) and will try a recipe with more traditional proportions of sugar to liquid and see what happens.  I would be interested in the thoughts of other caramel-makers on this issue.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why don't you cook the caramel near the final temp, then add the pineapple. This will reduce the temp with the addition of liquid. It won't take long for it to cook back to final temp and you won't have to worry about cooking out the flavor or scorching. 

  • Like 1

Ruth Kendrick

Chocolot
Artisan Chocolates and Toffees
www.chocolot.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 minutes ago, Chocolot said:

Why don't you cook the caramel near the final temp, then add the pineapple. This will reduce the temp with the addition of liquid. It won't take long for it to cook back to final temp and you won't have to worry about cooking out the flavor or scorching. 

 

Good idea.  I tried something like that at one point, but the pineapple reduced the temp a lot.  Perhaps I should heat the pineapple close to what the temp of the caramel will be when the pineapple is added?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That would work. You want to have as small amount of liquid as possible when you add it. You need the liquid at first to dissolve the sugars, but at the end, not so much.


Ruth Kendrick

Chocolot
Artisan Chocolates and Toffees
www.chocolot.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
44 minutes ago, Jim D. said:

 

Good idea.  I tried something like that at one point, but the pineapple reduced the temp a lot.  Perhaps I should heat the pineapple close to what the temp of the caramel will be when the pineapple is added?

This is standard operating procedure for me.  If I'm adding liquid to the sugar - cream, fruit puree, etc,  - I heat it before adding it.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What do you use for pineapple puree?  Something like a Boiron or Perfect puree, or do you make your own?  And you're doing the Pineapple recipe on p126 of Fine chocolates 2?

 

It's counter-intuitive to me that more liquid would make a caramel more likely to separate, but my intuition has been wrong before :)

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I make my own purée from fresh pineapple.  And yes, that is the Wybauw recipe I am using.

 

I agree with the counter-intuitive diagnosis.  I am just clutching at straws for an explanation that does not end with "I guess I am just a total idiot." 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, Jim D. said:

I make my own purée from fresh pineapple.  And yes, that is the Wybauw recipe I am using.

 

 Do you strain your puree or is it pretty thick?  Commercial fruit purees are pretty runny, and will have a higher water content.  If you have a lot more fiber/pulp in yours, it could be throwing off the proportion of water.  Though with cooking to a temp that shouldn't matter so much, but excess plant mass might contribute to the scorching.  I dunno, wild guess - maybe try it with canned pineapple juice, or reduced pineapple juice?  Or strain your puree through a chinoise if you don't already.  Perfect puree has a caramelized pineapple, which is sort of weird IIRC.  I haven't used other brands of pineapple. purees

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My purée is chunky--deliberately so since it cooks down quite a bit during the caramelizing process.  Compared to cream, it definitely has more mass and that could be a factor.  I'm getting more pineapple tomorrow and will try, first, a standard caramel recipe using only pineapple purée, no cream, and second, the same recipe dividing the liquid between cream and pineapple, starting with cream and adding the pineapple toward the end (as Ruth recommended earlier today).  I'll see what happens in both cases.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you want to keep the chunks, maybe just add more of the pineapple puree so you're adding enough liquid and see what happens.  240g?

 

Also, is your puree raw?  If so, that may be part of why it takes so long to cook.  Try bringing your chunky puree to a boil to start breaking down all the cells and releasing all the juices instead of waiting for that to happen in the caramel.  I haven't cooked with pineapple in a while, but I vaguely recall caramelizing the fresh fruit for a dessert in the past.  Despite how fibrous pineapple seems, it is quite juicy and cooks down a lot once you add heat and sugar.


Edited by pastrygirl additional genius (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...