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What to do with burnt caramel?

I tried making salted caramel this weekend and I burned it! The texture and consistency is fine but it just tastes slightly burnt...well, more than slightly...a lot burnt. I'm hoping that I don't have to ditch it and can use it in a salted caramel banana pudding pie or swirled in homemade vanilla ice cream. Any ideas as to what I can do with it or should I just chalk it up a lesson learned in making caramel? Thanks!

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  1. I have no expertise in this area, but maybe adding some sugar, or better yet, try adding honey. If you try my suggestion, taste the result before adding it to anything. Molasses is another condiment that you could try.

    My copy of The Food Repair Handbook by Michelle Berriedale-Johnson (publ. 1984) does not have a solution for this problem, but warns that you stand back from the caramel if you are adding a liquid to hot caramel because the hot caramel causes a liquid to vaporize and the cook can be badly burned by the resulting steam if standing over the pot.

    1. My opinion is nothing tastes good that tastes "burnt".

      8 Replies
      1. re: monku

        I was thinking the same thing but what about burnt caramel ice cream and creme brulee? They have slight burnt notes to them...

        1. re: chasiu

          Why don't you do these things, then tell us about it. You are in the best position to tell us how well it works.

          1. re: chasiu

            Never had burnt caramel ice cream so I can't comment. Creme brûlée a little burnt caramelization is fine, not the whole top.
            I've still got a bad burnt taste in my mouth from some burnt tasting teriyaki chicken last week. I think they might have burned the teriyaki sauce and didn't know it because the chicken didn't have any burnt markings on it. Every bite was horrible and I should have mentioned it to the owner.

            1. re: monku

              Hmmm... you're right. Burnt is burnt. I'm going to give ChiliDude's suggestion a try though and see if that works out. If not then I will be tossing it. Thanks for everyone's insight!

              1. re: chasiu

                I say try it. Aren't mistakes how a lot of food is created? I once melted chocolate too long in the microwave for homemade ice cream & it partially crystallized. I was too lazy to go to the store to buy more chocolate. So I decided to use it. Everyone loved the crunchy texture and requested more.

                1. re: chasiu

                  If you haven't done this yet... personally, I love my caramel very dark and bitter, and I find that for salted caramel ice cream, the darker the better because it's mixed with the sweet cream or milk. I love this recipe and have made it successfully with whole milk.

                  1. re: chasiu

                    What I did and mine was burnt bad was add 4cups yogurt 1/4c Honey and orange juice pluse zest and 2c powdered auger fixed it right up and was sooo good

                2. re: chasiu

                  I think there's a difference between burnt sugar and burnt caramel - burnt sugar ice cream would be caramel ice cream; burnt caramel ice cream is...burnt caramel ice cream. But I know that I like to take my caramel just to the edge of being burnt, and some people find it too dark; use your judgment, I guess. But if it really does taste burnt, toss it - at least it wasn't too expensive, right?

                1. I agree with the others - burnt is burnt. However, I do have a yummy recipe for burnt lime caramel sauce for pork loin if you are interested, dependent on how burnt your burnt is! :-D

                  1. Well my take is that if I tried to pass it off as a burnt caramel ice cream or whatever, no one but me would be eating it. I'd have to just accept it and toss it because it's doubtful I'd eat the entire container of ice cream. And think about it, now you've wasted milk and perhaps more ingredients. Accept the loss., and get a candy thermometer, best investment for a few bucks. Remember when making candy, hollandaise or roux, don't answer the phone, don't answer the door, don't do anything but watch that stuff and you'll do just fine.

                    1. OK, three suggestions: (1)Try melting a bit of it it into a sauce of very light milk chocolate (like cheap Easter chocolate) and cream (maybe add a little instant coffee to tie the flavors together). (2) Try incorporating it into a marinade for chicken, pork or duck. The burnt caramel would probably lend some depth of flavor, and, since you'd throw out most of the marinade after it flavored the meat, it wouldn't make the dish overwhelmingly burnt tasting. (3) Crush it up and add a little bit at a time to coffee or even certain cocktails. Who knows?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ninrn

                        Or What I did and mine was burnt bad was add 4cups yogurt 1/4c Honey 1 1/4c brown suger and orange juice pluse zest and 2c powdered auger fixed it right up and was sooo good

                      2. The Vietnamese have a recipe for clay pot pork, the sauce for which begins by lightly burning sugar. Your concotion might work there.

                        1. After tasting the caramel on its own for the second time, it didn't taste all that bad. I think it was my initial disappointment that led me to think that it was really burnt as opposed to it just having a slight smokey, bitter flavor. If it were seriously burnt then I would have tossed it.

                          Update: I followed ChiliDude's advice and added honey to the caramel. It tasted less caramel-y but that mixed with homemade ricotta cut down on the burnt flavor. It was a great midnight snack. My weekend project will be using the caramel in ice cream and per ninrn's suggestion, seeing if it'll taste better mixed in with chocolate. I'll let you all know how it goes! Thanks again for everyone's comments!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: chasiu

                            SUCCESS! I made a gelato base using milk, sugar, heavy cream and egg yolks and poured the caramel in while the mixture was almost finished churning. The burnt notes of the caramel weren't as strong when it was combined with the gelato base. I certaintly learned my lesson about the fine art of making caramel!