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.

mkfradin

Caramel: Adding cream after sugar browns vs. cooking with cream

Recommended Posts

I've been making caramel for quite a while and aside from a few tragedies in the early 2000's (crystallization and subsequent soaking and jackhammering to rescue a pan),  I've been relatively successful.  I follow certain recipes for certain purposes...so far.

 

Just to be clear, I'm talking about caramel candy here, not the sauce or the combo of water and sugar.  The candy you use in a homemade Snickers bar.  

 

 So I've been playing with Peter Greweling's recipes from his home version of his cookbook, just to keep the quantities down, and while the caramel with the sweetened condensed milk is fine, it makes a cloyingly sweet candy bar when combined with all of the other ingredients.  What I'd really like to do is cook my sugar to a dark brown and add the cream and butter after I've gotten that bitterness.  I'm getting ready to improvise to make my candy more grown-up.  I

 

Which leads me to my question:  I've seen recipes calling for the sugar to be caramelized prior to the milk fat being added and recipes calling for everything to be dumped into a pan and cooked together.  Assuming that the final temperature of the final product is the same, is there any textural difference between these two methods, and if not, why is one specified over the other?  I know that cooking everything together reduces the risk of crystallization, but so does adding the invert sugar.  

 

I've looked all over to try to find an answer as to why someone would choose a dry or wet caramel over a "kitchen sink" caramel (that's my description--if there's a common one that I don't know, please share).  While an answer would be good, I'm  just as interested in hearing if anyone has ever played around with this or has any theories as to what the differences between the two methods are and why you do what you do.  I'd love to do a taste test, but honestly, I don't know if my waistline or insulin levels could withstand the process.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don’t have all the answers for you, but my guess is it’s easier to control the amount of caramelization of the sugar (how dark/bitter) with caramelized the sugar (either wet or dry) and then adding the fats. I haven’t made many of the “kitchen sink” style, but I have made caramels of all consistencies (sauce, soft, teeth breakingly chewy, fruit flavored) by cooking the sugar first. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So I never make the “kitchen sink” types because I don’t want to stand there stirring all day, but I agree that caramelizing the sugar on its own gives you control over the caramel flavor. You’re caramelizing the sugar directly instead of toasting milk proteins. I think that is why the other versions are so sweet - if you cook a soft caramel to 250f, that’s not hot enough to actually caramelize the sugar, which happens around 315f. At lower temps you’re browning the milk proteins and getting Maillard reactions but the sugar isn’t decomposing like it does at higher heat. 

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You are actually talking two different caramels. The caramelizing sugar one is exactly that-caramelizing sugar. The second method is actually a Maillard caramel-you are caramelizing the protein in the dairy. You get different flavor profiles from each. In my experience, you have to cook the first method to a higher temp to get it to “stand up”. For a sauce or a pipe able caramel, I use the caramelized sugar method. For a stand up caramel, I use the Maillard. Just personal preference. Remember you have to adjust final temp for your altitude.

 

 


Edited by Chocolot (log)
  • Like 6

Ruth Kendrick

Chocolot
Artisan Chocolates and Toffees
www.chocolot.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Chocolat has the correct answer.  (as usual)

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks to all who responded. The Maillard reaction makes perfect sense and I suppose it’s tunnel vision that kept me stumped for so long (I associate it with steak and toast, not cream and butter).  Looking forward to playing with caramel now that I can make it a little more intelligently.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/24/2018 at 11:00 AM, Chocolot said:

You are actually talking two different caramels. The caramelizing sugar one is exactly that-caramelizing sugar. The second method is actually a Maillard caramel-you are caramelizing the protein in the dairy. You get different flavor profiles from each. In my experience, you have to cook the first method to a higher temp to get it to “stand up”. For a sauce or a pipe able caramel, I use the caramelized sugar method. For a stand up caramel, I use the Maillard. Just personal preference. Remember you have to adjust final temp for your altitude.

 

 

 

Reviving an old post here due to some unexpected issues of late. I have been making the Maillard version of a caramel (soft/chewy) and then enrobing in dark chocolate for nearly 10 years. Lately, we have had issues with crystallization happening after enrobing and storing for a while. (Actually, customers who know our products well have alerted us to the issue - embarrassing, but also encouraging that they know what to expect and are kind enough to let us know since visually it's impossible to see.)

We use plenty of glucose syrup (recipe almost identical to Greweling's condensed milk version). Given this method, I can't see how it occurs due to a stray sugar crystal on the edge of the pan. My only thought is some oddly high levels of humidity may have occurred at some point after production during storage. We package caramels in a clear sleeve, and also sell individually but hold them in our temp and humidity controlled candy case. None of the other bonbons or ganaches in the case show any signs of excess humidity. I'm stumped. Anyone else have issues and what have you done to ensure it doesn't occur?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Casey H. any changes in making your caramels? New batch of ingredients? New equipment? New employee?  Change in batch size?

 

Trying to help troubleshoot... it is annoying when a tried & true recipe starts causing you problems. Hopefully it will be figured out soon.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...