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Syrup for Creme Caramel

g
gourmet wife Dec 10, 2008 08:21 AM

I'm thinking of making creme caramel for a dinner party this weekend. I'm hesitating because the syrup for the dessert scares the bejesus out of me. I'm thinking of a cheaters way to make this tasty treat. Do you think if I use maple syrup in place of making my own sugar caramel will result in the same effect? Yes I know the flavour will differ but I'm just wondering how the end result will turn out, if it'll burn.

Thanks in advance!

  1. g
    gourmet wife Dec 11, 2008 08:34 AM

    Wow thanks for all the helpful tips everyone. I think you've encouraged me to giv eit a try. I'll keep you posted on my results. Thanks again.

    1. rabaja Dec 10, 2008 03:02 PM

      I posted this once years ago, but I think I botched up the proportions of water and sugar. I will try to get it right this time.
      This is a recipe for a Pouring Caramel, meaning a thick caramel you can use to line creme caramel/flan molds or a thick caramel you can thin with water, citrus juice, booze, whatever to make a sauce for any dessert.
      The recipe:
      1 c water
      3 c sugar
      1c water, reserved
      Combine the first TWO ingredients in a sauce pan, add water first, and pour in sugar carefully so it gets moist and you don't have granules of sugar sticking to the sides of your pan.
      Place over med/high heat and bring to a boil. It will eventually color and you can swirl it slightly to get an even caramel color. I like to take it pretty far, to achieve a rich color that comes through on top of the custard when you are done. Also, if you don't take it far enough it will just be sweet, not nuanced.
      Careful of two things! 1. Don't get it on you, the burns you get from hot caramel are gruesome. 2. Don't burn it. If you do start over. It's only sugar and water, so practice makes perfect can apply here.
      When you achieve the color you are looking for turn off the heat and add the RESERVED 1 CUP OF WATER. Do this slowly! It will sputter up and try to burn you! Add it in thirds so it doesn't boil over and step back each time. Do not do this with children underfoot! (I kid here, who would do that?)
      Allow this caramel to cool and then line your ramekins with the caramel by pouring or ladling enough to coat the bottom. It is quite thick when it cools, but should pour alright.
      This recipe can be easily halved, but it's also nice to have on hand for the above mentioned sauce, which can go well with sherbet, upside down cake or crostatas or tarts.
      When you add your base, pour it gently over the back of a spoon so you don't displace the caramel. Alternatively you can freeze the ramekins to harden the caramel, but who has room for that? Just pour your base in gently and you'll be fine.

      1. Pastryrocks Dec 10, 2008 02:13 PM

        Adding water to the sugar will increase the time it takes the sugar to get to the caramel stage, and also help the caramel to be ‘stable’. Also and probably the most important in this process is that when the sugar reaches the caramel stage, the water will slow down the process and allow the sugar to brown evenly with the help of you moving the pot in a circular motion. Do not use a spoon to mix the caramel, it will ruin the caramel.

        All you need is to add some water and mix it into the sugar. Take a pastry bush or bbq brush and dip it into cold water and brush down the side of the pan. Making sure that no sugar is on the side of the pot. As the water evaporates, you’ll need to bush down the sides of the pot now and then to prevent the hot liquid sugar from turning into crystals.

        You could/should also keep a (metal) bowl of cold water nearby to stop the caramel process from going too far. That way you will not end up with burnt caramel. If the caramel begins to smoke, you’ve gone too far, it will become bitter the closer it gets to a very dark brown or black colour.

        The longer the crème caramel sits in the fridge, the greater the chance of the hard caramel turning into liquid caramel. After two or three days most of the hard caramel with turn into liquid gold. The only problem with this is that the custard will easily absorb other flavours sitting in the fridge. So you need to make sure the crème caramel is nicely covered when it has cooled.

        You can also make some liquid caramel, if you don’t have the time to allow the crème caramels to sit in the fridge for a few days.

        Make sure you turn the crème caramels or crème burlee around in the oven. If you get a hot spot in the oven, the crème caramel will have brown spots (means overcooked). Also, if you have a pan deep enough, it is best to place a tea towel in the bottom and then place you ramekins atop of the towel. The towel will help to distribute the heat evenly. Also, best to add your hot water to the pan with the pan in the oven. Less chance of spilling hot water on your feet.

        Regarding the maple syrup, the reason why the caramel is used is that the custard can bake without the caramel just mixing into the custard. I’ve reduced maple syrup many times, but never cooked it to the caramel stage. I don’t think that bringing maple syrup to the caramel stage would work. I think maple syrup would burn before it reach the caramel stage. Though I could be wrong.

        1. Sooeygun Dec 10, 2008 01:21 PM

          Everyone has covered how easy the caramel is...don't be afraid! But to further expand on why the maple syrup won't work. The caramel hardens in the bottom of the dish before pouring in the custard or else it would be a big mess. The only way I could see using maple syrup as a substitute would be just to bake the custards with no sugar and pour maple syrup over after turning them out on the serving plate. Would be a pale imitation of a real creme caramel.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Sooeygun
            g
            gfr1111 Dec 10, 2008 01:43 PM

            I agree with Sooeygun. Part of what makes custard with carmel sauce over it so good is the slightly burnt flavor of the carmel sauce (just a tad of burnt flavor). Mostly, it is sweet, but the burnt flavor gives it an edge. If you poured maple syrup over the custard, you would just get more of the same sweetness that is in the custard: sweet on sweet--not nearly as good.

            As for making the sauce scaring you, I agree it can be scary when you pour the water into the melted and carmelizing sugar. It bubbles up like crazy. The water turns to steam and bits of melted sugar can be propeled out of the pan. You can't really avoid the fireworks, but if you use a pot with high sides (think--a pot in which you boil the water for spaghetti), the volcano-like reaction will be safely contained. Just place the pot on the back burner of your stove while melting the sugar--or sugar syrup, depending on how you do it-- and pouring in the water. Keep the hood fan on high, too. Good luck! I hope that this helps.

          2. h
            hungry100 Dec 10, 2008 12:30 PM

            If I can do it, anyone, even you, can do it. I'm not much of a cook, but when I do have a dinner party I often serve coffee creme caramel, and the carmelized sugar is the easiest part. I use a cast iron pan and I've never had a problem. It's my favorite dessert.

            1. legourmettv Dec 10, 2008 12:28 PM

              In David Joachim's book "The Science of Good Food" he uses a microwave... I was a doubter until I interviewed him and had him make some for me. Easy - Peasy! I would have to go back to my notes, but I seem to remember 7 minutes as the amount of time?
              Anyway take a look around the web for his book.

              G.

              1. v
                Virginia Girl Dec 10, 2008 11:56 AM

                It isn't difficult to make the caramel sauce. I use superfine sugar -- much easier. Here is what I learned by trial and error: Dissolve the sugar in cold water before starting to cook it. Reduce the sugar water, watching carefully. Do not stir, but you may swirl the pan a little if you must. When it starts to turn golden, watch verrrrry carefully till a nice deep golden color. Pour immediately into your mold and turn the mold around to line the pan a little up the sides and the bottom. Voila.

                1. sarah galvin Dec 10, 2008 08:28 AM

                  The carmelized sugar is very easy. Just keep an eye on it - don't walk away from the stove. Nope, maple syrup won't do! If you burn it the first time, just throw it out and try again. Once you have mastered carmelizing sugar, the whole world opens up! Good luck.

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