e are playing with sugar today, folks! It always amazes me how it is possible to make a heavenly bite using only ordinary, everyday ingredients like sugar and cream! No less than a miracle, that’s what it is!
There are four basic ingredients for making soft caramels – sugar, glucose syrup (corn syrup or golden syrup), cream (at least 30% fat), and butter. Of course, some scraped seeds from a vanilla pod won’t hurt, as well as some chocolate of your choice, but a candy thermometer is a must if you want to achieve the same result each time you whip up a batch of these addictive treats so go and get one!
To understand how caramels work, you will have to go back to basics and remember how to cook sugar syrup. A few reminders: mix sugar with some water, be careful to brush down the sugar crystals, and once the syrup boils, don’t stir! The thermometer will tell you the rest. You can use a classic candy thermometer or a digital one with a probe (that is my preference).
How to Cook Soft Caramels
There are a few ways you can make soft caramels. Whatever method you decide to use, I advise you to prepare all the ingredients and equipment in advance, because when your mixture boils, you should stick to your pan (pun intended) and closely watch the thermometer. Otherwise, you could easily overcook your caramels, and what a waist would it be if you broke your tooth while eating candy you have made yourself! So, prepare a baking pan lined with parchment paper (please, don’t use the aluminum foil, I ruined one batch like that!), measure your ingredients, and have a bowl of ice water at hand, just in case of burning yourself.
As the title says, this foolproof method calls for popping all the ingredients together in a saucepan and cooking them to the desired temperature, anywhere between 118°C (245°F) and 121°C (250°F). Once you get there, remove the pan from the heat and pour the mixture into your prepared baking pan. Cool for a couple of hours at room temperature, and then put it in a fridge. C’est fini! If using this method, you need to be aware that at these temperatures the sugar is cooked to firm ball stage, and the it is not actually caramelized. However, milk solids are caramelized, and that is why caramels made this way are also called milk caramels.
This method requires cooking sugar and glucose (corn syrup or golden syrup) with some water until they get nice amber color, and if you have never caramelized sugar before, check my post about caramel to learn all the tips and tricks. When your sugar caramelizes, you should remove the saucepan from the heat, add hot cream and butter, and stir until incorporated. Be careful, when you add the cream, the caramel will expand and rise in your pan, so add the cream gradually!
Once you have incorporated everything, put your saucepan back on the stove and insert the thermometer.
Cook until the thermometer shows the temperature between 118°C (245°F) and 121°C (250°F). The higher the temperature, caramels will be firmer once cooled. This is when I like to add spices – like vanilla, cinnamon or cardamom – because, if you add them too soon, very high temperatures could alter the intensity of their flavor and/or kill it completely.
Cooling the Caramels
Once you cook your caramels to desired temperature, pour the mixture into a prepared baking pan, and let it cool. I like to cool my caramels on my balcony until they are barely warm. At that point, I’ll put them in the refrigerator overnight to set. The better they set, easier you will cut them.
Cutting Soft Caramels
When your caramels are completely set, take them out of the baking pan by pulling the parchment paper out, and put them on a cutting board. You can peel off the paper very easily, and cut the slab into uniform pieces. Actually, it isn’t that difficult! You need a sharp knife, and some vegetable oil or cooking spray if the caramels start to stick to your knife. With time, the caramel slab will become softer and softer, but you can always put it back in the fridge until it hardens and then continue cutting.
Wrap each caramel in the cellophane, twist the ends, put them in a box, and your perfect homemade Christmas present is ready!
Soft Caramels Recipe
by:Tereza Alabanda,The Pastry MaestraPRINT PDF (EN) ISPIŠI PDF (HR)
Prep. time : 10 minutes
Cook time : 10 minutes
Ready in 20 minutes plus cooling
Level : AdvancedIngredients:
- Sugar 180g (6.3oz)
- Glucose syrup 180g (6.3oz)
- Cream (at least 30% fat) 250g (8.8oz)
- Butter 30g (1oz)
- Vanilla powder
- Prepare 15cm x 15cm (6″ x 6″) baking pan and line it with parchment paper. The bottom and the sides of the pan should be covered with paper.
- Put sugar and enough water to cover the sugar into a large saucepan. Put the lid on, and bring the mixture to a boil.
- When the syrup boils, remove the lid, add glucose syrup and continue cooking the syrup.
- Cook the mixture until it starts to caramelize. At that point heat up the cream.
- When your caramel gets nice dark color, remove the mixture from the stove and gradually add hot cream and butter. Stir until incorporated.
- Put the mixture back on the stove and insert the probe of a candy thermometer into the pan. Continue cooking the mixture without stirring.
- Cook until the mixture reaches a temperature between 118°C (245°F) and 121°C (250°F). At that point, remove the pan from the stove, add vanilla powder, and immediately pour the hot mixture into the prepared baking pan.
- Leave it to cool at room temperature overnight.
- Place the cooled caramel slab on a cutting board and cut out uniform pieces using a sharp, oiled knife.
- Wrap each caramel in the cellophane, and store them in the fridge for a couple of weeks.
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