Salty Caramel Quest Continues
Thanks to all who helped out with my caramel quest a few days ago. It's going well, and I will post results later, but I have a question in the interim:
I do'nt think I raised the temperature enough, as the caramel is too soft. I can scoop out little spoonfuls and wrap in wax paper squares, and they're delicious, but it would be a lot easier and have more finesse if they held their shape just a tad better.
Can I safely re-melt it and bring it up a few degrees higher than I did before? Or should I just leave well enough alone?
I don't know either, but I'm anxiously waiting to hear, as I made caramel last night that's much too soft. I knew I hadn't gotten it up to the temperature required, but that didn't appear to be possible - the recipe (from Grossman's How to Cook Everything) never called for turning the stove much above low, and I had it up near full high and still couldn't get the temperature above 225.
I'm wondering if I might be better to boil the sugar and add the cream after. It increases the chances that I'll burn the sugar, but I can probably get the temperature of molten sugar up quite a lot higher than sugar tempered with cream.
I hesitated to post the recipe I used because I altered it quite a bit because I think there's a huge flaw in it. But more on that later.
It was basically corn syrup and sugar cooked until almost 300 degrees. That gets it very brown and caramelized. I boiled cream and butter separately and let it sit on the side to cool while I was cooking the sugar. Some recipes have you add hot dairy, some cold; I went with in between.
Unfortunately, I don't think it's possible to make candy without the possibility of scorching something or burning yourself. You just need to be very careful. Having said that, I don't think it's as tricky as most people fear.
Try decreasing the amount of corn syrup--that's what keeps 'em soft in the first place. If you were to make the recipe sans corn syrup, you'd end up with something approaching crunchy toffee. High-fructose corn syrup or glucose will soften the end results, and prevent the caramels from sugaring too quickly.
Maybe you're stirring too much. I found it hard to get the temperature to keep rising if I stirred too much. The trick for me, was balancing between stirring enough to keep the bottom from burning and stirring so much the hot air kept escaping.
It also occured to me that a smaller pot might hold heat better with less surface area from which heat could escape.
In either case, it did take for ever for my sugar to go from 250 to 300 degrees. Once it reaches 300 degrees you have to really watch out because it starts skyrocketing out of control.
I heated mine to 245 and found it too soft, so yours must be really really soft.
I don't know for sure, but I don't think you can reheat caramel to make it harder.
How about scooping up little bits and coating them in chocolate to make caramel truffles? Once the chocolate hardens, they'll be easier to eat.
And if you don't like them, you can send them to me....
Alas, I was hoping to avoid having to temper chocolate. This week has already involved too much unnecessary dessert making.
They are still delicious and juuuust barely solid enough to wrap in wax paper. People will just have to enjoy them that way instead. Like that'll be hard. They're so dark and delicious!
Although I don't want to say this will definitely work for you, I have done this in the past with another recipe. Here's what happened: I had my pan lined with pecans and I was waiting for the mixture to come to temperature and it was about 5-10 degrees short for a LONG time. My arm was tired from stirring, so I thought, what the heck, and I put it in the pan and went to bed. The next day, my caramel was like yours, not stable enough to hold a square shape. So I put it back in the pot, pecans and all, and hoped for the best. It finally got to temperature and was fine. The pecans didn't burn either, which is something I was worried about.
There is something physics-related about making caramel and heat transfer once it reaches a certain temp. Also, the time it can take varies from day to day depending on the weather and the humidity.
Hope this helps and good luck!
Well, here's what I've ended up doing, and based on the way the still warm stuff from the spatula is sticking to my teeth, I think this one is going to work!
Yesterday, I made a batch that I could not get up to 245 degrees and which did not set up properly. It was smooth and creamy, but had the consistency of jam - it held shape, sort of, but would run over time. It was certainly not something you'd eat with your fingers.
This afternoon, I made a batch where I used the same ingredient proportions as yesterday's batch, but added the butter and cream after heating the sugar, which shot up to 245 in the blink of an eye. This batch, once chilled showed no signs of even considering setting up.
Finally, today, I through both batches back in the pot together, and mindful of Celeste's comment that too much corn syrup could be part of the problem, added some extra sugar (about another cup to the 4 cups already in their), but no extra syrup or cream. This, I brought up to 245 over a long period of time. It hung about at 225 for quite awhile. Perhaps it has to boil off all the water at this stage in order to get past the boiling point of water? In any case, I did get it up to 245 eventually. Added a little extra vanilla and stirred out the air bubbles and set it to chill.
That's wehre it stands now, but as I noted, the stuff on my spatula has set perfectly just in the last five minutes. I can only assume that the rest of the batch will work as well.
So, it seems you *can* in fact reheat this stuff and give it another go, but maybe play with your proportions by adding a bit of something else to see if you can make it work?