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Q&A: Confectionery 101

202 posts in this topic

Thank you ever sooooo much!!! I just finished making the nougat - finally!! I have been wanting to do this for ever. Anyway, it became crumbly-boohoo!! I think I over heated the syrup-it started climbing up very fast allof a sudden! Then perhaps I over mixed the syrup with eggwhites (how long?) and then I tried not to overstir the pnut B in but in order to get it mostly in I had to gently mix... and then as I was plopping it in the frame-CRUMBLE!!! And it seems too sweet. I will try again-any tips? Then I will do the passion fruit/mango caramel and coat in I think dark chocolate.

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I think I'd try beating the syrup and egg whites just long enough for them to start to thicken slightly, add the nut butter at that point. I've had my share of crumbly nougat when I've beaten too long.

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I made the caramels this weekend – as amazing as everyone else has already said! The only variation I made from the recipe was to add a couple tsp of fleur de sel with the cream.

I decided dipping them in dark chocolate could only make them better. It was my first time tempering and enrobing, so I may have done something wrong. I think my temper was okay – the chocolates have a nice finish and my leftover chocolate set up nicely with a good snap. But as the dipped caramels set up, many of them started to ooze out a little bit of caramel here or there. Is this normal with soft caramels? Something I did? Didn't do? They're not all doing this, just some...

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gallery_27125_5936_38388.jpg


Edited by emmalish (log)

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I know you think those are faults, but I love them!  Those lil' squirts would be the first thing I would nibble off.

Me, too, but I have to admit, the little squirrely one in the first picture makes my skin crawl! It's too wormy!

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I made the caramels this weekend – as amazing as everyone else has already said! The only variation I made from the recipe was to add a couple tsp of fleur de sel with the cream.

I decided dipping them in dark chocolate could only make them better. It was my first time tempering and enrobing, so I may have done something wrong. I think my temper was okay – the chocolates have a nice finish and my leftover chocolate set up nicely with a good snap. But as the dipped caramels set up, many of them started to ooze out a little bit of caramel here or there. Is this normal with soft caramels? Something I did? Didn't do? They're not all doing this, just some...

gallery_27125_5936_21796.jpg

gallery_27125_5936_38388.jpg

Firstly - your temper looks good!

I don't think the fleur de sel had anything to do with the flow. How firm was your caramel before dipping? How cool was your caramel when you dipped it?

If your caramel is cooler than room temperature when you coat with chocolate (particularly dark chocolate), as the caramel warms and the chocolate cools, the caramel expands and the chocolate contracts (dark chocolate more so than milk or white) meaning that you have a container smaller than it's contents. The filling will force it's way out, causing cracks.

I've had a similar problem with the apples that are dipped in caramel then in chocolate - in this case part of the problem seems to be the weight of the caramel flowing down off the apple - it tends to blow cracks in the bottom of the chocolate and ooze out.

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My dipped caramels have done that too. It effected to so many pieces in my first batch that I had to double dip them. I think I read somewhere on this board that you should take care not to have too sharp edges on your caramel pieces so I lightly hand rolled mine last time before dipping to round off the corners and I think that helped a lot - far fewer appendages in my most recent batch!

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Firstly - your temper looks good!

Thank you! I thought it was okay – I was very careful with the tempering process and watching my temperatures, but I wasn't completely sure. Everything I've read says the chocolate should be shiny, but mine has more of a dull finish to it. Is that right? It looks pretty much like the photo. But there are no streaks or bloom.

I knew it had to do with the chocolate contracting while it set, but I hadn't seen anyone else post anything like this, so I thought I'd done something ridiculous along the way. Good to hear it's not just me! I had trouble with some of the caramels falling off my dipping fork and back into the chocolate... would that have caused those caramels to warm up enough to cause this problem?

My dipped caramels have done that too. It effected to so many pieces in my first batch that I had to double dip them. I think I read somewhere on this board that you should take care not to have too sharp edges on your caramel pieces so I lightly hand rolled mine last time before dipping to round off the corners and I think that helped a lot - far fewer appendages in my most recent batch!

Interesting. I'll try that with my next batch (I will be making these again, definitely). Many people upthread said that their caramels lost shape fairly quickly. Mine held their shape well, but were also quite soft. I loved the consistency. I let them sit for a day before pre-coating and cutting them. I used a sharp oiled chef's knife to cut, and got a nice straight edge on them all. They sat on my kitchen counter from the time I made them until the time I dipped them, so they were definitely at room temperature.

Oh, and quick question for Kerry. How long will these keep? And how best to store them? What about if they're not enrobed? Thanks again for this wonderful recipe! I know I'll be making it often.


Edited by emmalish (log)

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If your caramels are fairly soft I've found it leads to more leaks, as the caramel continues to spread after it's dipped but before the chocolate sets, leading to a thinner coating that's more likely to crack. So cooking the caramel to a slightly higher temperature might be helpful as well. I know that the presence of salt can invert some sugar, and that can lead to a softer caramel, so it's possible adding salt had some impact. (But salty caramel is the best!)


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I don't think I'd want them any harder than this. They're really the perfect consistency – soft and chewy, yet firm enough to hold their shape. I'll just keep the "imperfect" ones for myself.

I brought a bunch in to work to share – HUGE hit. People can't stop talking about them and asking for more. I've told them the first taste is free, but if they want another hit they have to pay for it. :raz:


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Firstly - your temper looks good!

Thank you! I thought it was okay – I was very careful with the tempering process and watching my temperatures, but I wasn't completely sure. Everything I've read says the chocolate should be shiny, but mine has more of a dull finish to it. Is that right? It looks pretty much like the photo. But there are no streaks or bloom.

Dipped items in good temper will be glossy, but they will not be shiny. You only get shiny when the chocolate dries up against a shiny surface like a mold or acetate.

Oh, and quick question for Kerry. How long will these keep? And how best to store them? What about if they're not enrobed? Thanks again for this wonderful recipe! I know I'll be making it often.

I'd say they keep well for at least a month, probably longer than that. I do find over time, that the interface between the chocolate and the caramel changes, so that when you bite them, the chocolate separates from the caramel in a way it doesn't when they are 'young'. Still taste fine, but I can tell they are getting old.

I don't think I'd want them any harder than this. They're really the perfect consistency – soft and chewy, yet firm enough to hold their shape. I'll just keep the "imperfect" ones for myself.

I brought a bunch in to work to share – HUGE hit. People can't stop talking about them and asking for more. I've told them the first taste is free, but if they want another hit they have to pay for it.  :raz:

Smart girl! Get them hooked and then become their supplier. Don't undercharge either!

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Hey Kerry,

I am planning on making your caramel soon and am very much looking forward to it. However, I would like to try making with some raw sugar I have, as well as perhaps piloncillo, palm sugar, and maybe even maple syrup if possible. All three of the sugars have considerably more moisture than regular white sugar. Would I have to adjust for the moisture content or any other factors if I were to switch the sugar? The raw sugar is similar to turbinado, but probably a little more moisture, the piloncillo and palm sugar are close to brown sugar.

Would it even be possible to do it with maple syrup?

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It hasn't been discussed on this forum that I have seen, but the maximum temperature of a sugar solution is directly related to the amount of water in the solution.

Water boils @ 212 degrees f. at sea level. Sugar melts @ 350 degrees and carmelizes @ 356 degrees. You desired state of sugar solution is a mixture of these. Less water=higher temperature.

In other words what is happening when you go from soft ball to hard crack is you are evaporating more water to raise the temp. which detirmines the final structure of the sugar.

You can add "cups" of extra liquid to a sugar solution, but you will not achieve your desired temp. until the water has evaporated.

The only mistake you could make is to add too little water at the beginning in which case your solution may jump past your desired final temperature too quickly for you to react.

The type of sugar you use should have little effect on the final product other than taste. Maple syrup, honey, palm sugar, mollassas, etc...

It is possible that some sugar types may be more prone to granular crystal formation than others.

Some glucose shoulld be added to reduce the formation of undesireable

crystals which make the final product gritty or granular.

When you are boiling a sugar solution stirring can cause crystals to form on the stirring instrument as well as the side of the pot.

It is a good idea to wipe down the sides of your pot with water on a pastry brush as you go to eliminate the solid sugar on the sides from creating crystals as you pour the solution out of the pot.

Think of these particles of solid sugar as "seeds" ready to grow crystals.

I have found that it is a good idea to use a clean spoon, spatula to scrape the sugar out of the pot as you move to the next step in your recipe.

I see many comments about caramels too soft to keep their shape.

I can think of several possible causes.

Not reaching the final temperature. Any thermometer must be calibrated.

Some can actually be adjusted. Others cannot be adjusted but you can make a mental note to adjust the reading in use.

Put your thermometer in an ice bath with at least 50% ice. Does it read exactly 32 degrees? Put it in boiling water. Does it read 212? Remember to add 2 degrees to the reading for every 1000 feet you are above sea level.

In other words the boiling point will be 210 degrees @ 1000 feet.

If you are @ 2000 feet and your recipe calls for 256 degrees you need to be closer to 260 degrees due to the elevation difference. 2 degrees per 1000 feet above sea level.

Too much water/moisture in the final product. This can be caused by the type of cream that you use.

Light cream/half & half is about 12% fat.

Light whipping cream is about 28-32 % fat

Heavy cream is about 36% fat

Manufacturing cream is about 40 % fat

The rest is mostly water. So the type of cream may affect the final result.

If you want to stiffen your caramel you could simmer the cream to reduce the amount of water. If the recipe calls for 1/2 cup, start with 3/4 cup and simmer it down to 1/2 cup.

This much easier than trying to cook the caramel down after you add the cream.

Look at me ramble on.

I hope this helps

Darrell

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Hi Kerry (and anyone else) – I just watched the CIA dvd Brittles & More. Among other things, Peter Greweling makes a caramel. Rather than heating the sugars first, as you instruct, and then adding the fats and re-heating, he adds everything at once (except the butter which is added at 110°C) and heats to about 118°C. His caramel didn't appear to have nearly the same richness of colour as yours, and according to the dvd, sets up in just 20 minutes.

I've only ever tried your recipe, but I have to say that in most of the other recipes I've seen, online and in books, everything goes in the pot at once as Greweling does.

What's your opinion of this method compared to yours? Has anyone else tried both?


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Hi Kerry (and anyone else) – I just watched the CIA dvd Brittles & More. Among other things, Peter Greweling makes a caramel. Rather than heating the sugars first, as you instruct, and then adding the fats and re-heating, he adds everything at once (except the butter which is added at 110°C) and heats to about 118°C. His caramel didn't appear to have nearly the same richness of colour as yours, and according to the dvd, sets up in just 20 minutes.

I've only ever tried your recipe, but I have to say that in most of the other recipes I've seen, online and in books, everything goes in the pot at once as Greweling does.

What's your opinion of this method compared to yours? Has anyone else tried both?

I have made recipes where everything goes in at the beginning - particularly the recipes for the mango/passion fruit caramels. I think you get a cleaner fruit flavour when you put it all in at once, but a richer caramel flavour when you do it in the two parts.

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I have made recipes where everything goes in at the beginning - particularly the recipes for the mango/passion fruit caramels.  I think you get a cleaner fruit flavour when you put it all in at once, but a richer caramel flavour when you do it in the two parts.

That's good to know, thank you! I love the caramely-ness of this recipe, but I'd like to try some flavoured ones as well.


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Hi! I want to make some caramel apples for the weekend coming up. Now I was wondering what caramel would be appropriate? The same as for the snickers bars? I then want to dip in chocolate. ANy decorating ideas, successful tips or "caramel for apples" recipes? I thought to do it with my nieces who are visiting for a few weeks from the states. What is popular to put on them? Nuts? You don't really see these here.

Thanks!

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Hi! I want to make some caramel apples for the weekend coming up. Now I was wondering what caramel would be appropriate? The same as for the snickers bars? I then want to dip in chocolate. ANy decorating ideas, successful tips or "caramel for apples" recipes? I thought to do it with my nieces who are visiting for a few weeks from the states. What is popular to put on them? Nuts? You don't really see these here.

Thanks!

I use the same caramel for the apples. You need to use something like a delicious or matsu or granny smith - one that isn't affected by heat. You dip them when the caramel is still quite hot.

It's still a challenge to get the caramel to stick to the apple, I haven't solved this problem yet.

Once the caramel is cold, I dip in chocolate.

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Okay- thanks! WOuld it be a mistake to dip in chocoalte the following day? WOuld the caramel start flowing off the apple?

The caramel does have a tendency to flow off the apple, I usually just press it back into place before dipping.

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I have some stainless bars that I use as caramel rulers.  I went to the Metal Supermarket on Speers Road in Oakville and asked them to cut them for me.  The last set I bought were 3/8 inch by 1 inch bar and I had them cut 2-12 inch pieces and 2-8 inch pieces.  Hubby polished off the burrs.  They cost me around $24. A lot cheaper than the ones you get at stores.

Marlene - there are several Metal Supermarkets in the GTA if you are interested. Just google them.

So, I've been looking at the Metal Supermarkets site because I want some caramel rulers made. I looked at what they have under "stainless steel", but how do I know which kind to get?

I'm supposed to choose the Profile/Shape, the Grade, and the size, but I'm not quite sure what to get.

Judging from the above, I need at least 3/8"x1"x40", but what shape is a long bar? They've got:

ANGLE, CHANNEL, EXPANDED, FLAT, HEXAGON, PIPE, PLATE, ROUND, SHEET, SQUARE, THREADED ROD, TREAD PLATE, TUBE RECT, TUBE ROUND, TUBE SQR.

I thought it might be a tube rectangle, but looking at the sizes available, I think I'm wrong.

And would they polish off the burrs for me? I don't think I have anything I could do it with unless I can use a nail file. . .

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I have some stainless bars that I use as caramel rulers.  I went to the Metal Supermarket on Speers Road in Oakville and asked them to cut them for me.  The last set I bought were 3/8 inch by 1 inch bar and I had them cut 2-12 inch pieces and 2-8 inch pieces.  Hubby polished off the burrs.  They cost me around $24. A lot cheaper than the ones you get at stores.

Marlene - there are several Metal Supermarkets in the GTA if you are interested. Just google them.

So, I've been looking at the Metal Supermarkets site because I want some caramel rulers made. I looked at what they have under "stainless steel", but how do I know which kind to get?

I'm supposed to choose the Profile/Shape, the Grade, and the size, but I'm not quite sure what to get.

Judging from the above, I need at least 3/8"x1"x40", but what shape is a long bar? They've got:

ANGLE, CHANNEL, EXPANDED, FLAT, HEXAGON, PIPE, PLATE, ROUND, SHEET, SQUARE, THREADED ROD, TREAD PLATE, TUBE RECT, TUBE ROUND, TUBE SQR.

I thought it might be a tube rectangle, but looking at the sizes available, I think I'm wrong.

And would they polish off the burrs for me? I don't think I have anything I could do it with unless I can use a nail file. . .

These days I use the aluminum bars. They are lighter (I've got a drawer full of these things and it barely pulls out) and much less expensive.

I get 1/2 inch square cut into 2 - 18inch, 2 - 12 inch and 2- 8 inch pieces. I'm sure for the right price they would polish the ends for you. Never forget the chocolate discount - apparently I get the best rate for my bars because I always bring them goodies.

I also have 1/4 by 1/2 inch bar cut into the same sizes - this works for two layered fillings, I lay them on the 1/4 inch side for the first layer - then on the 1/2 inch side (or replace with the 1/2 inch square bars) for the second layer.

I have some 3/4 inch bars too - now you know why my drawer is so heavy. Can't imagine what it would be like if they were all stainless.

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These days I use the aluminum bars.  They are lighter (I've got a drawer full of these things and it barely pulls out) and much less expensive.

I get 1/2 inch square cut into 2 - 18inch, 2 - 12 inch and 2- 8 inch pieces.  I'm sure for the right price they would polish the ends for you.  Never forget the chocolate discount - apparently I get the best rate for my bars because I always bring them goodies.

I also have 1/4 by 1/2 inch bar cut into the same sizes - this works for two layered fillings, I lay them on the 1/4 inch side for the first layer - then on the 1/2 inch side (or replace with the 1/2 inch square bars) for the second layer.

I have some 3/4 inch bars too - now you know why my drawer is so heavy.  Can't imagine what it would be like if they were all stainless.

OK, so I get the square not the tube square? The measurement are a little weird--for example, if I get grade 202T43, I could get 1.5", but it doesn't tell me the rest of the dimensions (I'm assuming the 1.5" refers to height).

Does it matter what grade I get? Can I just get the cheapest kind?

It's so confusing being a girl! (I just set the women's lib movement back a few decades. . . )

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