I attempted my first ever batch of caramels yesterday and they actually turned out...although they taste a little funny to me, which is either burnt sugar or the espresso powder I put in them... Maybe an experienced candy-maker around here could help me with a few questions I had:
1. It took forever for my mixture to come up to temperature. After 15 minutes, I jacked up the heat on the stove to get the candy to 260 degrees because it had just been sitting at 225. Should I have been more patient at a lower burner setting?
2. Is there a difference between using heavy cream and half & half in a caramel recipe?
As long as the caramel came to the proper temperature, it doesn't matter whether you cooked it over a high heat or a low one. The temperature is what counts.
Do you mean can you substitute half and half for heavy cream? I'm not a candy maker, although I've made a lot of caramel for other purposes, but all the caramel candy recipes I've seen call for either heavy cream or sweetened condensed milk. I'm not sure half and half would give you the proper density. But I'm sure there are others here who know better than I.
No problem with cooking on high, you just need to stir more often as the temp goes up and make sure you can scrape the bottom of the pan so the bottom doesn't scorch.
Heavy cream has more fat and less water than half and half, so if you use half and half you're going to need to boil a bit more water off to get to temp. i imagine the caramels would be a bit less creamy without the extra fat, but would still work. If you're simply out of heavy cream, I think it would be ok to use half and half plus a knob of butter.
re: babette feasts
Thanks for the advice. I stirred constantly so it looks like scorching was a non-issue.
The Betty Crocker caramel recipe I have calls for half & half and butter, instead of heavy cream. I think I'm going to try that one next, with a few modifications. (i.e. replace the corn syrup with honey)
It does take a long time for the candy to reach 260 (or 255, whatever). I find patience is, indeed, rewarded.