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Factors affecting caramels' firmness


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I've recently started making caramels and been experimenting with lots of flavors and having a blast. One thing that I am having a hard time finding information about is the role of the different ingredients and how different ratios affect the firmness of a caramel. In particular, I have an espresso caramel recipe that I can't seem to get to the soft, no-effort-while-chewing texture that I've achieved with other flavors, yet I've stuck to the same temperatures as other recipes. This leads me to believe that the ratio of ingredients is key. I was hoping I'd be able to get some insight into how to alter ingredient ratios to produce a softer caramel. 

 

Any help would be appreciated.

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The espresso caramels recipe:

 

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup sugar

5/8 cup light corn syrup

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons instant espresso powder

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

 

I warm the cream and add the espresso powder then cook the sugar and corn syrup to 302F. Once it has reached 302F, I add the other ingredients and cook until 248F.

 

Honey lavender with same cooking temperatures:

¾ cups sugar

1 teaspoon dried lavender

200 ml (5/6 cup) heavy whipping cream

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

3 tablespoons honey

1½ tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

½ teaspoon kosher salt

 

Goat milk and cinnamon, with heating all ingredients at once to 248F:

½ cup butter, cut into pieces

1 cup brown sugar

½ cup white sugar

¼ cup honey

1¼ cups goat milk

1¼ cups heavy cream

1¼ tablespoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon

 

Edited by chows (log)
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As you have found, caramels are challenging! You have the best thermometer, and your altitude is low enough that you shouldn't need to make adjustments. It is hard to say exactly what the problem is, but you might try cooking the espresso batch a couple of degrees less and see if that works for you. Also, milk solids can aid in stand-up quality. Greweling has a lot of good info on the subject, and he has several formulas using different milks and cream to compare.

Edited by Chocolot (log)
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Ruth Kendrick

Chocolot
Artisan Chocolates and Toffees
www.chocolot.com

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On 3/24/2019 at 12:03 PM, Chocolot said:

As you have found, caramels are challenging! You have the best thermometer, and your altitude is low enough that you shouldn't need to make adjustments. It is hard to say exactly what the problem is, but you might try cooking the espresso batch a couple of degrees less and see if that works for you. Also, milk solids can aid in stand-up quality. Greweling has a lot of good info on the subject, and he has several formulas using different milks and cream to compare.

 

Not just Milk Solids, but solids in general will help increase stand up quality.  You could increase your corn syrup (which to me looks low)

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@chows Your definitely right in assuming that the ratio of ingredients will have an affect on the texture and chew of the caramel. But there's many many ways of making caramels, they produce different results. Like @Chocolot mentioned, check out Peter Grewelings book Chocolates and Confections, thats a very good place to start, it gives reliable formulas and a good text on the role each ingredient plays. I'd also say pick up a copy of Fine Chocolates Gold, by JP Wybauw. His caramel formulas look different from Grewelings, but they work, and may be the texture your looking for.

 

I suppose what I'm saying is that all three of your caramel recipes are different, they all will come out differently. For the coffee caramel, I think its the recipe itself that is broken, it has nothing to do with the espresso powder. Its a bit easier to find a reliable formula for plain caramels in one of the books, then you can start flavoring that base recipe anyway you want, rather then trying to troubleshoot and adjust a recipe that was found online.

 

Edit: I wanted to add, go on Amazon and purchase a used copy of the 1st edition of Chocolates and Confections, it's easily the best $20 you can spend on a solid reference for candy. 

Edited by minas6907 (log)
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