Caramel is both a flavor and a process where sugar gets manipulated with heat and additives. It is also versatile and appears as candy, desserts, commercial flavoring and coloring. Lately we give ourselves permission to enjoy caramel as salty and in some savory dishes. Caramelized onions are an example of this.
So, basically caramel is sugar in transition! It is an exercise in kitchen chemistry, with proven variables which govern a variety of textural outcomes. “Dry” caramel is heated sugar with no additives. “Wet” caramel” gets additional ingredients like butterfat, milk or cream. Each can entertain flavoring extracts, salt or seasoning. It can be made into a solid caramel candy, or it is used as a caramel syrup which when mixed with popped corn, and sometimes nuts, becomes caramelized popcorn balls. The syrup stage is what is used in savory caramel dishes. Commercial caramel coloring is a bitter-tasting product and is used as coloring or flavoring beverages and other foods.
Salted caramel, a lesson learned late from the Asians, gives caramel a new dimension, and additional ingredients aren’t only salt. For instance, the addition of soy sauce, fresh ginger and anchovies make this Caramel Pork recipe on Myrecipes.com. BBCGoodFood publishes their Asian Caramel Chicken Wings which has you add fish sauce, green chilli, cinnamon, ginger and lime to make a basic caramel sauce savory.
Caramel appears to have it origins in the western hemisphere in the UK as Br
itish toffee or butterscotch back in the late 1800s.
Making caramel demands your full attention, and it is important to use a larger-than-necessary pot.
There are essentially two areas to be careful about.
The first is because you need to pay close attention to a candy thermometer as the range you want is brief and narrow.
Second, your bubbling caramel mixture can “get away” from you causing painful sugar burns. This is especially likely to happen when you add any liquid to it. The spattering can be widespread and painful, thus a large pan to better contain it.
SOME SEARCH AND RECIPE SUGGESTIONS
- Bonbon filling
- Caramel apples
- Caramel popcorn
- Chewey candy
- Crème brulee
- Dessert topping
- Hot chocolate
- Sundae topping
Below are foodsites with suggested caramel recipes.