Abused and misused – Caramels

Keith never liked caramel much, unless it was in a Lion or a Mars bar. I always agreed with him, we used to joke about it and say that whenever the big mass producing confectionery companies wanted to make a candy bar and wasn’t sure what to pad it out with they would have a meeting and the people would say to each other: “Let’s fill it with wafers or caramel. I know, let’s fill it with both!”. I think I have a point, because how many bars aren’t there like that? Caramel these days is used like a cheap filling ingredient, when you’re too stingy to afford good ingredients or not creative or daring enough to try something new.

It’s a shame it’s gotten to this. I’m saying this because recently I’ve learnt that caramel can be something good. I don’t particularly like Hotel Chocolate because their chocolates all taste so similar but that was still the first time I had a good quality caramel filled chocolate. The caramel in them wasn’t just a sugary substance, it was something that had lots of flavour in itself. I guess what I’m trying to say is that caramel is like vanilla; an ingredient (or lack thereof in the case of vanilla) that is extremely abused by the mass producing companies that can be great if done correctly.

I had finally gotten to the part in Greweling’s book about non crystalline confections and I decided to try to make some caramels, because I felt like the cooking of sugar is a very basic concept that I have to know inside and out. I was a bit apprehensive because people sometimes say that good caramel is hard to make, but it wasn’t that bad. You can’t see it from my pictures but I didn’t stir well enough so there are tiny little spots of browned sugar in some of the caramels that came off the bottom of the pan but apart from that I had no trouble making them. I don’t have a confectionery frame so had to use a tin with greaseproof paper in but I used a really bad type by mistake that everything sticks to so the caramels didn’t look as perfect as I wanted but that’s for practice.

This recipe makes a quarter of the original recipe. The tin size is approximately, you can use a slightly bigger or smaller depending on desired thickness you want. Remember to stir all the time while the caramel cooks.

Greweling’s caramels using condensed milk

125 g/4.4 oz sugar
90 g/3.2 oz sweetened condensed milk
50 g/1.8 oz water
1/4 vanilla pod
108 g/3.8 oz glucose syrup
50 g/1.8 oz butter
1/4 tsp salt

Mix the sugar, sweetened condensed milk, water and vanilla pod scrapings in a saucepan, bring to the boil while stirring constantly. Add the glucose syrup and lower the heat to medium while stirring, let the mixture get to 110 degrees C/230 degrees F, add the butter and keep stirring it until it reaches 117 degrees C/243 degrees F. Do a soft ball test to make sure it’s ready and remove from heat, add the salt and pour the mixture into a 20 x 10 cm/8 x 4 inches tin lined with oiled greaseproof paper, let the caramel get to room temperature before you cut them.



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