Do you enjoy eating some delicious caramel? Perhaps it’s one of your favorite treats, or maybe you just want to try something different in the kitchen. The problem with caramel is it can actually be quite difficult to make. It might seem simple, but it isn’t. So if you’ve been burning too much sugar, ruining pans, or simply don’t know where to start—then you’ve found the right article for you. In it, we’re going to look at the best way to make the perfect caramel every time.
You can stop burning those pans and having to start again, caramel needn’t be difficult. You’ve found the right article with all the info you need. Unlike baking simple cakes and other things, caramel isn’t always so easy to get right. After a lot of trial and error, we’ve found the best way to make the perfect caramel. Before that, we’re going to look at a few caramel basics so that you know exactly what you’re doing and what you’re trying to achieve. Keep reading for more about caramel and ultimately, how to make the best caramel:
Dry and wet caramel
Before we really get started with how to make proper caramel, it’s worth noting that there are two distinct methods. One is dry and one is wet. But how are they actually different? Dry caramel is made only from sugar, and cooked to the right texture and finish—so it’s golden brown. Dry caramel is easy to make, quick and simple—it also doesn’t need any extra ingredients. However, one drawback of dry caramel is that it’s easy to burn or get just right.
Wet caramel uses water as well as sugar, and takes a bit longer to make. That’s because it cooks more slowly. This makes it prone to becoming crystallized. While some people aim for crystallization for certain recipes, this isn’t really what you want for most caramels.
When syrup boils, the sugar can sometimes form back into crystals which can become hard. Crystallization can happen if you stir too much of if there’s a foreign substance other than sugar in the pan. That’s why you need to make sure your pans and kitchen utensils are as clean as possible before trying to make caramel. If your caramel starts to crystallize, you can add acid like lemon juice to help it stay in liquid form.
Using the right equipment
When making your own caramel, it’s a good idea to make sure you’ve got all the right equipment. That’s because molten sugar can get really hot, and could be dangerous. So you will need a large, sturdy non-stick frying pan or at least a normal heavy-based pan. You can use the latter for wet or dry caramel, but the former is just for dry. Make sure you’ve got plenty of cold water nearby, as well as a pastry brush that’s heatproof and a metal spoon if you’re doing wet caramel.
Spatulas or pallette knives are also useful. Make sure you’ve greased all surfaces you’re going to use to spread so the mixture doesn’t stick.
The great thing about caramel, and what surprises some people, is that it’s super easy to have the right ingredients. Caramel is basically only made from caster sugar, so it really is amazing how you can make such a delicate liquid from one simple ingredient. For this caramel, use white caster sugar as it is easy to work with and will show the caramelization process well.
How to make wet caramel
To make wet caramel, put the sugar in the pan and cover it with water. Turn the heat up so that you dissolve the sugar, but do it gently and not too fast. Do this until every grain of sugar has dissolved, then stir the mixture with a metal spoon to make sure it is smooth. Don’t splash the mixture. When you’re sure the mixture is clear, add a tiny bit of lemon juice and turn the heat up to bring to the boil.
Use a pastry brush to dab around the edge of the pan so that the water mixes properly into the syrup. Repeat this process two or three times as the mixture boils, and keep going until the mixture thickens and starts to change color. Swirl the mixture until it is completely even and golden.
How to make dry caramel
If you want to make dry caramel instead, here’s how. Put the sugar straight into a pan and turn it to around medium. Heat until the edges of the sugar begin to turn to liquid. Do not stir! When there are big patches of molten dissolved sugar, you can swirl the pan slightly and mix the dry sugar so the mixture becomes even. Pour the mixture into a greased pan and allow to set. You can put nuts in the mixture before this step if you are making praline, or add butter and double cream to the mixture for a smooth and tasty sauce.
Remember that whichever method you use, the heat from the pan will continue to cook the mixture, so remove from heat even if you’ve turned it off. Remove the pan from the heat just before the mixture is finished for the best results. When you have finished, you want to pour the caramel straight away or cool the pan as quickly as possible, so that the sugar doesn’t scorch or overcook.
Now you know how to make two types of caramel! You can have a lot of fun with this, and enjoy plenty of tasty treats. Try experimenting and adding different things to the mix, like cream or nuts. Remember, while caramel making isn’t easy, it’ll easier every time. Now you can wow your friends with the best caramel around!