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understandingcocoa

Caramel - How to make it more runny

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Hi guys, as the title suggests, I'm trying to make a more liquid caramel filling for bonbons.

 

I make a salted caramel which as soon as it starts to cool gets too difficult to pipe very quickly, I've tried upping the cream & reducing the butter but still seem to have the same issue. 

 

Ideally I'd like a really runny caramel, the sort that pools out when you bite into a bonbon, can anyone provide any tips?
 

Current recipe - 200g sugar, 180g cream, 40g butter - tastes beautiful but sets too hard! (Cooked until sugar turns amber)

 

thanks in advance!

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Do you caramelize the sugar separately then add the cream and butter, or are you cooking it all together until the mixture colors?

 

I suggest the former method, and keep going with upping the cream.  Or add liquid in the form of liquor - rum, cointreau, bourbon, etc..

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24 minutes ago, pastrygirl said:

Do you caramelize the sugar separately then add the cream and butter, or are you cooking it all together until the mixture colors?

 

I suggest the former method, and keep going with upping the cream.  Or add liquid in the form of liquor - rum, cointreau, bourbon, etc..

 

I caramelise the sugar alone with a little water, then once to colour adding the cream & butter. Thank you i'll try another batch now and up the cream - do you use a recipe where it's more cream than sugar?

 

P.s Thanks Pastry Girl, I always see your name popping up on the threads helping others :)

 

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You're welcome.  My usual caramel sauce is equal parts by weight 40% cream and caramelized sugar, no butter, plus salt and vanilla bean depending on use.  It is flowing at room temp, spoon-able when cold but can separate after a few weeks at room temp.  I've never tried it in bonbons, but usually had caramel sauce on something during my restaurant pastry chef days. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, understandingcocoa said:

 

I caramelise the sugar alone with a little water, then once to colour adding the cream & butter. Thank you i'll try another batch now and up the cream - do you use a recipe where it's more cream than sugar?

 

To what temperature and consistency do you cook the caramel?  That is another factor in how fluid it is when finished. You should always test it by dropping a little in water. If you are at the soft-ball stage, the caramel should turn out fluid when it's cool. If it is too stiff when you go to pipe it into shells, you can heat it up, add some water, and cook it again--but not so much as the first time.

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I use the same recipe as pastrygirl and 2 thermometers - a glass candy one and a digital probe one - after adding the cream salt and vanilla I cook it to 230F for a softer sauce thickness - if that is thicker than you want try 225F - I find the final temp is the most important factor.  I make a lot of caramels for dipping that I take up to 245 and then pour into silicone molds to set.   Get a good thermometer and make sure it is calibrated properly - boil some water and see what the thermometer reads - it should be 212F  - if not note the temperature and increase or decrease your final temp as needed. 

 

ps one of my favorite bonbons I have made is a caramel and peanut butter one.

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The consistency of caramel comes down to the cooking temp.  The higher you go, the more water you are cooking out.  

When I want a consistency that I can pipe into bonbons but that won't run out, I dry caramelize sugar and glucose, then deglaze with cream (vanilla infused), cook to 106 and add butter.  

If you want a runny caramel, try cooking to 104.  Keep lowering the temp to get the consistency you want.

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On 7/2/2019 at 10:54 PM, Jim D. said:

To what temperature and consistency do you cook the caramel?  That is another factor in how fluid it is when finished. You should always test it by dropping a little in water. If you are at the soft-ball stage, the caramel should turn out fluid when it's cool. If it is too stiff when you go to pipe it into shells, you can heat it up, add some water, and cook it again--but not so much as the first time.

 

Thanks Jim, I don't cook to a particular temp, I've always just done it by eye to an amber colour.

 

I usually add the cream and take the sugar off the heat as soon as it reaches colour so I'm unsure how I could cook it to a lower temp... sounds like it's experiment time

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On 7/3/2019 at 6:14 PM, Chocoguyin Pemby said:

I use the same recipe as pastrygirl and 2 thermometers - a glass candy one and a digital probe one - after adding the cream salt and vanilla I cook it to 230F for a softer sauce thickness - if that is thicker than you want try 225F - I find the final temp is the most important factor.  I make a lot of caramels for dipping that I take up to 245 and then pour into silicone molds to set.   Get a good thermometer and make sure it is calibrated properly - boil some water and see what the thermometer reads - it should be 212F  - if not note the temperature and increase or decrease your final temp as needed. 

 

ps one of my favorite bonbons I have made is a caramel and peanut butter one.

 

I love anything with peanut butter so that sounds heavenly - do you layer it or mix them together?

 

This method is new to me - do you mean you carry on cooking the caramel after the cream has been added? and does this create a consistency that pools out of the bonbon when cut open?

 

I usually heat the sugar, glucose & a little water, then as soon as that reaches colour I immediately take off the heat and add in warmed cream & butter, then leave to cool. 

 

 

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On 7/3/2019 at 9:22 PM, Bentley said:

The consistency of caramel comes down to the cooking temp.  The higher you go, the more water you are cooking out.  

When I want a consistency that I can pipe into bonbons but that won't run out, I dry caramelize sugar and glucose, then deglaze with cream (vanilla infused), cook to 106 and add butter.  

If you want a runny caramel, try cooking to 104.  Keep lowering the temp to get the consistency you want.

 

Thanks Bentley, just to confirm, 104 Celsius not F correct? do you find it reaches an amber colour at this temp? 

 

and so you also put it back on the heat after adding cream?

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5 hours ago, understandingcocoa said:

 

Thanks Jim, I don't cook to a particular temp, I've always just done it by eye to an amber colour.

 

I usually add the cream and take the sugar off the heat as soon as it reaches colour so I'm unsure how I could cook it to a lower temp... sounds like it's experiment time

The customary method is to get the sugar to the color you want (remembering that it will lighten when the cream is added), then add warmed cream and continue cooking to the desired temp, which will be determined by the consistency you want the caramel to have when it has cooled. I think it is absolutely essential to check its temperature as you are cooking it and also check when it is finished by dropping a bit into cold water (this will tell you whether it is at "soft-ball" stage or further along). I strongly suggest you read through Kerry Beal's lesson (which has instructions as well as photos) on how to make caramel. Since you want something more fluid, you simply stop the cooking at a lower temperature than she gives (since she is making "stand-up" caramels). It helps to know that if you accidentally exceed the temperature and consistency you are aiming at, you can simply add some water and cook the caramel again. For pipeable caramel, I cook mine to approximately 236F/113C and aim for a little beyond soft-ball stage. Too fluid and the caramel may leak from the bonbon, too firm and you will have difficulty piping it. For some other approaches to fluid caramels, I recommend Peter Greweling's Chocolates and Confections (he has a photo of caramel oozing out of a cut chocolate that is irresistible). 

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9 hours ago, Jim D. said:

The customary method is to get the sugar to the color you want (remembering that it will lighten when the cream is added), then add warmed cream and continue cooking to the desired temp, which will be determined by the consistency you want the caramel to have when it has cooled. I think it is absolutely essential to check its temperature as you are cooking it and also check when it is finished by dropping a bit into cold water (this will tell you whether it is at "soft-ball" stage or further along). I strongly suggest you read through Kerry Beal's lesson (which has instructions as well as photos) on how to make caramel. Since you want something more fluid, you simply stop the cooking at a lower temperature than she gives (since she is making "stand-up" caramels). It helps to know that if you accidentally exceed the temperature and consistency you are aiming at, you can simply add some water and cook the caramel again. For pipeable caramel, I cook mine to approximately 236F/113C and aim for a little beyond soft-ball stage. Too fluid and the caramel may leak from the bonbon, too firm and you will have difficulty piping it. For some other approaches to fluid caramels, I recommend Peter Greweling's Chocolates and Confections (he has a photo of caramel oozing out of a cut chocolate that is irresistible). 

 

This is a huge help, thanks so much. I'm going to read Kerry's lesson & have a good experiment.

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this was a few years ago, but here's the recipe I used:

 

82g sugar, 226g cream, 41g coffee beans, 31g kahlua, 62g butter

 

boil cream & coffee, infuse for 30 mins, strain, reweigh to 226g with cream, reboil

dry caramelise sugar, deglaze with hot cream

cook to 118C

cool to 80C, add butter & kahlua, whisk together

cool to <26C

pipe

 

I think I got this recipe from a So Good magazine.

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On 7/8/2019 at 10:28 PM, understandingcocoa said:

 

I love anything with peanut butter so that sounds heavenly - do you layer it or mix them together?

 

This method is new to me - do you mean you carry on cooking the caramel after the cream has been added? and does this create a consistency that pools out of the bonbon when cut open?

 

I usually heat the sugar, glucose & a little water, then as soon as that reaches colour I immediately take off the heat and add in warmed cream & butter, then leave to cool. 

 

 

Hi understandingcocoa - I layer it and yes I cook the caramel after I add the cream - the consistency depends on what temperature you cook the caramel to after adding the cream - I haven't made a runny caramel to fill bonbons - yet.  I cook mine to 230F for this application.  First I pipe the peanut butter in - I use Adams crunchy - and then pipe the caramel, let cool and then cap.  Another variation I tried is what I call - PBJC  first layer a small amount or raspberry jam i make, then PB then Caramel.   The acidity of the jam works really well I think. 

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On 7/9/2019 at 1:35 AM, understandingcocoa said:

 

Thanks Bentley, just to confirm, 104 Celsius not F correct? do you find it reaches an amber colour at this temp? 

 

and so you also put it back on the heat after adding cream?

yes, Celsius.  I caramelize the sugar to the color I want (without looking at temp), then deglaze with glucose and cream., which lowers the temp of the sugar.  Then I bring it all up to 106 for the consistency I am after.  I let it cool slightly then add butter, blend with a stick blender and let cool completely.  

I believe sugar melts around 160C/320F and starts to caramelize around 170C/340F.  So you're heating it pretty high, then lowering the temp with the cream, then bringing the mixture back up to the desired temp to cook off the desired amount of water from the cream.  Then adding in a bit more water with the butter (which is usually around 18% water).  So the temp you cook too in the second stage will depend slightly on how much butter you're adding, but I imagine somewhere in the 104 area will get you close to a runny caramel.  Let us know how it goes.

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4 hours ago, Bentley said:

yes, Celsius.  I caramelize the sugar to the color I want (without looking at temp), then deglaze with glucose and cream., which lowers the temp of the sugar.  Then I bring it all up to 106 for the consistency I am after.  I let it cool slightly then add butter, blend with a stick blender and let cool completely.  

 

This is a bit off-topic but follows on your technique:  As I am currently embarked on a campaign to fix my caramel issues (namely, that often the fat separates from the caramel, sometimes immediately on adding the butter, sometimes after the caramel has sat a while, even occasionally after it has been piped), I immediately noticed that you use a stick blender to blend in the butter. Many recipes call for waiting a while (longer than the "slightly" you mention), so by that point using a stick blender is practically impossible. Do you ever have the separation issue I mention?  If not, do you think blending in the butter this way makes a difference?  I have only recently come to the conclusion that what one is doing when adding the butter is making an emulsion--blending what is mostly fat into what is mostly liquid (though each element contains the other as well). If that is in fact true, then forcing the emulsion--rather than just stirring in the butter--makes sense. I am incredibly frustrated when the problem occurs because sometimes--using exactly the same recipe--all goes well. Checking online reveals dozens of pseudo-explanations (caramel cooked too fast, too slow, too much butter added, etc.).

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In my opinion if you're getting fat separate out you either need an emulsifier in the recipe or you've just got too much fat

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20 hours ago, Jim D. said:

 

This is a bit off-topic but follows on your technique:  As I am currently embarked on a campaign to fix my caramel issues (namely, that often the fat separates from the caramel, sometimes immediately on adding the butter, sometimes after the caramel has sat a while, even occasionally after it has been piped), I immediately noticed that you use a stick blender to blend in the butter. Many recipes call for waiting a while (longer than the "slightly" you mention), so by that point using a stick blender is practically impossible. Do you ever have the separation issue I mention?  If not, do you think blending in the butter this way makes a difference?  I have only recently come to the conclusion that what one is doing when adding the butter is making an emulsion--blending what is mostly fat into what is mostly liquid (though each element contains the other as well). If that is in fact true, then forcing the emulsion--rather than just stirring in the butter--makes sense. I am incredibly frustrated when the problem occurs because sometimes--using exactly the same recipe--all goes well. Checking online reveals dozens of pseudo-explanations (caramel cooked too fast, too slow, too much butter added, etc.).

If you look back in the forum to my early days, I once had an issue with a cherry caramel separating.  Never figured out why.  But I've never had a caramel separate since then.  

I take the caramel off the heat as soon as it hits my temp, then let it rest for maybe 5 minutes before putting the butter in.  I am certainly not an expert in emulsification, but it makes sense that the blender would help emulsify the mixture, as the blades are creating smaller and smaller particles of fat to be suspended in the water.   

 

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If your caramel is not fluid enough for you and you are not cooking it at all after adding the cream (i.e. caramelizing the sugar to desired color/temp, deglazing with cream/butter/etc. off the heat, and then using it), you don’t have enough liquid in your caramel. Putting it back on the heat will only make it stiffer as you will be cooking out more water. 

 

Are you starting out with a recipe for a chewy caramel candy or are you starting with a recipe designed to be a sauce or bonbon filling?


Edited by Pastrypastmidnight (log)
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On 7/11/2019 at 8:10 PM, Bentley said:

yes, Celsius.  I caramelize the sugar to the color I want (without looking at temp), then deglaze with glucose and cream., which lowers the temp of the sugar.  Then I bring it all up to 106 for the consistency I am after.  I let it cool slightly then add butter, blend with a stick blender and let cool completely.  

I believe sugar melts around 160C/320F and starts to caramelize around 170C/340F.  So you're heating it pretty high, then lowering the temp with the cream, then bringing the mixture back up to the desired temp to cook off the desired amount of water from the cream.  Then adding in a bit more water with the butter (which is usually around 18% water).  So the temp you cook too in the second stage will depend slightly on how much butter you're adding, but I imagine somewhere in the 104 area will get you close to a runny caramel.  Let us know how it goes.

 

Thanks Bentley, from my experiments I think it must be that I need more liquid in my recipe, I tried the heating after adding cream method, however as soon as I added the cream it was already at 225F! So no way to cook to a cooler temp. I will keep you updated on my liquid addition experiments

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On 7/12/2019 at 12:57 AM, Jim D. said:

 

This is a bit off-topic but follows on your technique:  As I am currently embarked on a campaign to fix my caramel issues (namely, that often the fat separates from the caramel, sometimes immediately on adding the butter, sometimes after the caramel has sat a while, even occasionally after it has been piped), I immediately noticed that you use a stick blender to blend in the butter. Many recipes call for waiting a while (longer than the "slightly" you mention), so by that point using a stick blender is practically impossible. Do you ever have the separation issue I mention?  If not, do you think blending in the butter this way makes a difference?  I have only recently come to the conclusion that what one is doing when adding the butter is making an emulsion--blending what is mostly fat into what is mostly liquid (though each element contains the other as well). If that is in fact true, then forcing the emulsion--rather than just stirring in the butter--makes sense. I am incredibly frustrated when the problem occurs because sometimes--using exactly the same recipe--all goes well. Checking online reveals dozens of pseudo-explanations (caramel cooked too fast, too slow, too much butter added, etc.).

 

Jim i've had this exact same issue, using the same recipe and sometimes getting little blobs of fat.

 

I realised it was from adding the butter all in one go, now I add chunks at a time, stir that in, then the next etc, and it hasn't separated since.

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On 7/13/2019 at 1:56 AM, Pastrypastmidnight said:

If your caramel is not fluid enough for you and you are not cooking it at all after adding the cream (i.e. caramelizing the sugar to desired color/temp, deglazing with cream/butter/etc. off the heat, and then using it), you don’t have enough liquid in your caramel. Putting it back on the heat will only make it stiffer as you will be cooking out more water. 

 

Are you starting out with a recipe for a chewy caramel candy or are you starting with a recipe designed to be a sauce or bonbon filling?

 

 

I think this is definitely the issue, it's a recipe for a bonbon filling, and it is pipeable so it's not the recipes fault, I just want to be able to create a more liquid version.

 

Would you recommend making a wet caramel & starting off with more water in the sugar, or just adding more cream?

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6 minutes ago, understandingcocoa said:

 

I think this is definitely the issue, it's a recipe for a bonbon filling, and it is pipeable so it's not the recipes fault, I just want to be able to create a more liquid version.

 

Would you recommend making a wet caramel & starting off with more water in the sugar, or just adding more cream?

More cream. By the time your sugar caramelizes there’s probably not much if any of that initial water left. 

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2 hours ago, Pastrypastmidnight said:

More cream. By the time your sugar caramelizes there’s probably not much if any of that initial water left. 

 Agreed. Water boils at 212F, caramelized sugar is 100+ degrees hotter. 

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2 hours ago, understandingcocoa said:

 

Thanks Bentley, from my experiments I think it must be that I need more liquid in my recipe, I tried the heating after adding cream method, however as soon as I added the cream it was already at 225F! So no way to cook to a cooler temp. I will keep you updated on my liquid addition experiments

 

Were you following Kerry Beal's recipe (discussed earlier)?  If you are getting 225F after adding the cream and if you are adding the amount prescribed in whatever recipe you are following, then you can let the caramelized sugar sit a bit before adding the cream. I have one recipe in which the caramel reaches its final temp very quickly. In that recipe (it's for apple caramel), the liquid added is a mixture of cream and melted apple cider jelly. Since it's the same proportions as for other caramels I make, the only explanation I have come up with is that it has to do with using jelly plus cream (so more liquid than using just cream). But I don't think the explanation makes sense, and I remain puzzled. In any event, when the apple caramel reaches its final temp (as I said, almost immediately), it is still rather fluid, but it tests as done (a bit beyond soft-ball stage), and when it firms up, it is the perfect texture for piping.

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