Wednesday, March 3, 2010
What smoothes the rough edges like a spoonful of carmel. Drizzled over ice cream, tucked into a cupcake or adding the goo factor to an otherwise perfectly staid cheesecake square, nothing satisfies quite like a smooth buttery carmel sauce. My partner in all things carmel- Sharon, and I have been intrigued by sugar in all of it's forms and trying to understsnd the science behind the conversions. She figured out that glucose is sugar with an acid added (honestly things get fuzzy for me from here on out, science is one thing, molecular science a whole 'nother...that Sharon, she's one smart cookie!) She adapted this recipe from Alice Medrich 'Pure Desserts" which calls for golden syrup. Since we do not always have access to this product and don't like the results we get from corn syrup, a conversion was in order. in this case, more sugar, cream of tartar and a little water are added to sub for the glucose. One very important thing to remember when working with sugar crystals is that one small grainl on a spoon or the side of a pan can infect the whole batch and rob you of that smooth amazing creation that is...
3 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup Honey
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 t sea salt
2 cups heavy cream, heated to scalding
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter- cut in chunks
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
Combine sugar, water, honey, cream of tartar, and salt in a heavy bottom 3 quart saucepan over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until smooth and mixture bubbles around the edges. Wash down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water. Cover and cook 3 minutes (steam will help melt the sugar crystals) Uncover and, using your wet pastry brush, wash down the sides of the pan again. (do not skip these steps, or you will not have smooth carmel!) Attach a candy thermometer and cook uncovered, and unstirred until the mixture reaches 305 degrees. Turn off heat and stir in butter chunks and slowly pour in hot cream, mixture will bubble like crazy, be careful, but keep stirring. Turn heat back on medium-high and stir until mixture resumes a healthy boil. Cook til it reaches 225 degrees for a thin sauce and up to 230 for a thick carmel like the one above. And for Carmel Apples - take it all the way to 250 degrees. (Sharon keeps a glass of ice water next to the stove to test droplets of carmel for the texture she wants. This is also a good thing to dunk your fingers in should you burn yourself!) Store in glass jars. Keeps a month or more in the refridgerator...except at my house! To reheat, place jar in a hot water bath for 20 minutes.