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Best Pans for Caramel


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15 hours ago, Jim D. said:

I don't use mine very often because I haven't yet mastered getting the viscosity of cut and dipped caramels to something that will turn out consistently--it's often too firm to eat comfortably or too soft to hold a shape for dipping.

 

Jim, I'm using Grewelings Soft Caramels from his Chocolates and Confections at home and I have consistently positive results.  It's designed to pour into a 9x13 straight sided pan, which I line with parchment for easy release (but now I'm going to try those molds when they arrive.)

 

  • 4 oz water
  • 1 pound sugar
  • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
  • 12 oz light corn syrup
  • 6 oz unsalted butter, soft
  • 1 tsp salt (added at the end)
  • 1 vanilla bean (I use a tsp real vanilla at the end of cooking.)

All cooked to 245F.

 

Listing it here in case it's helpful since it's worked for me.

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22 hours ago, Jim D. said:

 

I purchased an O'Creme mold with 56 cavities, mainly because it produced the size I wanted, and at that particular time Chef Rubber did not have the size. I was with Ruth when she saw molds in use at JinJu in Las Vegas and, like her, was struck with what a clever idea the mold is. Jin's assistants were releasing caramels from the molds at an impressive rate of speed. They work without a hitch. I don't use mine very often because I haven't yet mastered getting the viscosity of cut and dipped caramels to something that will turn out consistently--it's often too firm to eat comfortably or too soft to hold a shape for dipping.

 

I feel like your temperatures are going to be the big determinant here. If you have a formula that you really like the flavour of, consider playing around with the temperature a little bit. Make a small batch and start taking small samples a few degrees below your target temperature, working in even rungs up the ladder until you hit a few degrees above. If you get a texture you like, great; if not, you can either dial in the temperature further or modify your recipe at that point.

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@GRiker, @jimb0:  There is a reason Peter Greweling repeats in every caramel recipe that temp cannot be the only guide and therefore the confectioner needs to test the texture of the caramel. And therein lies the rub. There is no way the conditions for making caramel one time can be repeated exactly (there is room temperature, humidity, measurement of ingredients, intensity of heat, etc.). And checking temperature and consistency of the caramel has its own variables:  If you intend to stop at 250F/121C and take the pan off the heat to check the temperature, the caramel will continue cooking, so the temp you thought you had will increase. These are not great insights, just some of the basic facts that make getting a "consistent consistency" difficult.

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I did note that temperature is going to be the big determinant once you’ve standardized on a recipe. I don’t buy for a second that room temperature or humidity are going to make much if any impact on caramel production - at least the cooking stage - because the local conditions around the pot are going to entirely supercede anything in the room. Properly and similarly stored ingredients are going to weigh just about the same every time, so again, if you standardize around a formula, you should be able to make a repeatable product. 
 

Thermal overrun is a property of cooking almost anything, not just caramels, and thus it should be kept in mind for making any confection, in my opinion. That’s not new. Frankly, I find taking the time to check the texture of a candy far riskier because of how long it takes vs a good instant-read thermometer. I believe a number of those techniques evolved because reading the temperature was slow and difficult in comparison to the tools we have today. 

 

 

 

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I wonder if one of the advantages of the Presto cooker is that the temperature of the pot can be set pretty close to the desired final temp of the caramel. I noticed in chocolots photo that her pot set temp is just under 250. Not sure if she cooks the whole time at that temp, but if so, maybe there would be less carry over heat? 
 

I haven’t ever tested the caramel for texture while cooking.  Maybe because I’m inexperienced, but it takes much longer than my thermopen, and I can’t see why temperature wouldn’t work just as well. 
 

However, there are lots of variables to be sure. 

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30 minutes ago, GRiker said:

I wonder if one of the advantages of the Presto cooker is that the temperature of the pot can be set pretty close to the desired final temp of the caramel. I noticed in chocolots photo that her pot set temp is just under 250. Not sure if she cooks the whole time at that temp, but if so, maybe there would be less carry over heat? 

 

Absolutely. But for me personally, I prefer the tradeoff of cooking high and standing and stirring because it gets the mixture up to temp more quickly. Obviously this is subjective.

Edited by jimb0 (log)
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The “big” players (think Kraft caramels) cook their caramels in vacuum, assuring the same conditions for each batch are the same.  They bring it up to temp so quickly that the Mailliard reaction doesn’t have time to develop, so, into a holding tank it goes where it’s kept at temp for x time to develop the color.

 

as for me, I never had such equipment.  I cooked in open kettles, in all kinds of weather.....

 

there are moments now where I really miss that.  But, those moments pass quickly.....

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  • 6 months later...
On 5/20/2020 at 10:29 AM, GRiker said:

 

I ended up buying the O'Creme mold.  Mostly because I could give it a try with minimal cost investment.  I'll report here how it goes. 

 

I have now used the O’Creme mold a couple times now. I like the size and I like how easy it is to push the caramel out of the mold. 
 

I don’t like the spaces between the molds.  The amazon picture shows someone putting the caramel in a candy funnel with no mess between the squares.  I don’t own a candy funnel and not sure I’d have the patience to use it neatly anyway. 
 

Instead I pour it into the mold and scrape the mold down with a taping knife. 
 

I used 2/3 of my batch and I still had lots of leftover that scraped onto my pan. 

I decided I wanted to try the Chef Rubber ones since I needed another one anyway. Just purchased it today.  Will see how that one works. 

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On 5/16/2020 at 2:05 PM, RobertM said:

for smaller batches, I use a Presto Electric Kitchen Pot.

Thanks Robert for this suggestion. I have used it a couple times now.  I love how little of my attention it requires! 

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 12/2/2020 at 9:18 PM, GRiker said:

I decided I wanted to try the Chef Rubber ones since I needed another one anyway. Just purchased it today.  Will see how that one works. 

I’ve used the Chef Rubber molds several times now. They are twice as expensive as the O’Creme molds but soooo much easier to use. Worth it! 
 

I bought two of them. One batch of caramel fills about 1 2/3 of the mold. Once I’ve finished cooking the caramel in my Presto pot, I strategically pour the caramel into the molds then quickly scrape the top with my taping knife. It’s super easy and very minimal waste.  I had no problems getting the caramel out of the mold. 

CF0B9742-DCA5-46CA-A4CB-0E7F5C7CD2E3.thumb.jpeg.58bb8d719de4690b9d87f558c3f2b2b1.jpeg

 

It was so successful I decided to try my almond toffee.  I had to cut the almonds in half widthwise so they’d easily fit in the mold, but this also worked out great. The only downside was that I always have a bit of butter that separates out at the end and it’s difficult to wipe out the little bits of butter which then get in my chocolate when I dip them. Still figuring out what to do about that. 

E354F682-7E0F-4F95-B326-39525079FC5B.thumb.jpeg.c78406a94da12dfdcafa58876de4886b.jpeg

 

 

Overall, I’m very pleased. The uniform size is great and it makes a lovely box! 

73F9DE0F-F76C-488F-B419-35756DE75A56.thumb.jpeg.af7cb991ef6ed93a1e88230113e60531.jpeg

 

Here’s the O’Creme mold for reference:

2A9BD2C6-80F2-4AC6-B645-DC74ECF62C1B.thumb.jpeg.2c27a43adb59a16901327b849a93c35b.jpeg

 

Not sure what I’m going to do with it now but if anyone can think of a good use for it, it’s yours for the cost of shipping!

 

Edited by GRiker
shrink and rearrange photos. (log)
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