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Salty Caramel Quest Continues

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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?

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  1. I have no idea (I am the anti-candy maker) - but did you see this?

    Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

    1. 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.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Jacquilynne

        That's how most caramel is made. You bring the sugar and water to temperature and then add butter and cream.
        How did your recipe approach it?

        1. re: Aaron

          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.

          1. re: nooodles
            h
            Hungry Celeste

            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.

          2. re: Aaron

            It had everything except the vanilla go in at once, heat to 245, then add vanilla and chill.

            There's just no way on god's green earth I could get that stuff anywhere near 245. 225 was the highest reading I could get, even with it boiling all over hell.

            1. re: Jacquilynne

              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.

        2. 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....

          Anne

          1 Reply
          1. re: AnneInMpls

            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!

          2. 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!

            1. 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?

              1. I've been making large batches of caramels every Christmas for about a dozen years and I've had every problem mentioned in this thread.

                Yes, you can remelt and try again. Absolutely. Have done it way more than once. Try 5 degrees higher.

                As another poster said, humidity plays a factor, so if you make them again in four months, they may be a little different.

                Many people have talked about how long it takes to get the mixture up to temperature. I use a pot that's much bigger than the liquid (once the sugars and cream are combined) and put it on medium-high heat. I stir gently, but it will still boil up a lot and pretty quickly. After it reaches about 230, the bubbling slows down and the temperature creeps slowly up. I've gotten my technique down to where it takes less than 30 minutes from start to finish.

                I also keep them refrigerated once they're cut up, so I can use a softer caramel to start with. This necessitates chilling them before cutting, too.

                Finally, here's a link to a place for candy wrappers. You can get the nice, large cellophane sheets 'specially for caramels. I will never cut wax paper again.

                Link: http://www.sugarcraft.com/

                1. I am brnging this topic to the top again. I made the Alain Ducasse Salted caramel- brought temp up to 248- cooled. Texture to soft. re-melted and brought up to 250. Still to soft. Is it worth re-melting again and bringing the temp to 255- or will it not change the texture at this point even if I brought it up to 300?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: cocoagirl

                    You're brave to remelt caramel. Sugar is so touchy I'd be afraid of burning it before it got melted.

                    But, mostly what I want to say is you may need to get your thermometer calibrated. It's not hard to do. Put it in boiling water — really boiling water — if it reads 212 degrees it's good. If it reads something else you just adjust all your other results by that deviation.

                    1. re: rainey

                      well this batch of caramels was a practice -so it will be okay- but thanks the light bulb when off in my head about the thermometer- only this morning - although I know I thought about this last week. Just forgot.

                  2. Thanks SOOO much for this thread! I just made a batch of caramels that aren't quite firm enough. I'll wait til tomorrow to re-do though, since it's rainy today. I'm glad I found you!

                    1. i did the same i slowly brought temp up to 248 and the caramels did not set correctly so i reheated and heated very quickly and the came out beautiful