Several months ago, my friend Julie and her husband went to San Francisco for a long weekend. After she came back, she gave me some salted caramel that she had purchased at a shop called Candy Darling, which unfortunately has since gone out of business.
I’d never been a big fan of caramel, so it was awhile before I sampled it. Well, when I finally did, it was revelatory. Similar to when I was in New Orleans and had fresh, never-frozen shrimp for the first time.
If the only caramel you've ever had was Kraft caramel, well, you ain't never had caramel.
This concoction was to die for!
After that, I thought it would be fun to try making my own. However, nearly all the recipes out there call for light corn syrup as an ingredient. Some others called for sweetened condensed milk. Both of these seemed like modern cheats to me. Caramel has been around a lot longer than those commercial products. I wanted something more traditional.
I finally found this recipe at about.com, which I made this weekend.
It was incredibly easy! I don’t have a 6x6 pan, so I increased the amount of ingredients by one-half, to fit my 9x9 pan. I also did not follow the instruction to NOT STIR. My understanding is that that could cause the mixture to burn and stick to the bottom of the pan.
I have my mom’s old candy thermometer, so I just heated and stirred until the mercury hit 250 degrees, poured it into the greased pan, sprinkled some sea salt over top, and let it set.
It’s pretty yummy!
Afterwards, I got out my copy of “On Food and Cooking” to see what the author had to say about caramel. According to Mr. McGee, you can make caramel from just sugar and boiling water.
I may try that sometime. I’m sure the batch of caramel I made this weekend will not be my last. But I will continue to tinker with the recipe. Do I really need to use cream and butter? What if I substituted half-and-half or even milk? Or left out the butter?
Enquiring minds want to know!