Sunday, October 26, 2014

Caramel Powder

I learned a new technique the other day!

I'm calling it a technique only because "recipe" doesn't seem right. A recipe, to me, implies the ingredients and method for a whole food item, ready to be consumed. This is a recipe for an ingredient, like a recipe for fish paste or curry paste! Only this isn't curry paste. This is caramel powder.

What is caramel powder? Instant caramel dust! You know how you can buy powders at the store that, when added to milk, turn into chocolate pudding? It's like that, only with pure, wonderful caramel. Add this powder to a baked good, used like/with sugar, and you add in a note of caramel. Seriously, I used them to make apple cobblers today...it was insane; it was just like biting right into a warm caramel apple. So here's how you make it!

Caramel Powder

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cups light corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp white vinegar
Put the corn syrup on the bottom of the pan, and then add in the salt, sugar, and vinegar. I know that the vinegar seems like an odd thing, but I always add in a touch of white vinegar to my caramels/hot sugar mixtures just to "invert" the sugar, and make it harder to crystallize. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and keep it covered; the steam will help cook the sugar evenly and wash down the sides of the pan. After about three minutes, remove the lid.

The color on the side of the sugar mixture should be turning colors now. Basically, the trick to a good caramel is just having the confidence to let it become that wonderful dark golden color. Meanwhile, prepare either a silpat mat or a buttered sheet of wax paper/parchment paper on the surface of your choice, preferably a sheet tray that's been lined. Once the color you desire has been achieved, pour out your hot sugar mixture carefully and let it cool.

Once it's cooled and hardened completely, the fun may now begin: Wrap it in a linen napkin or a super-clean tea towel to break it up in...OR just break it into manageable chunks to where you can get it in the food processor and grind it up. It's going to be loud, but worth it. The resulting powder(which might have big chunks, but that's ultimately okay) is known as caramel powder. You can add this to your hot drinks, your baked goods, your anything, really, to give it a taste of caramel. Mix it in with your tea! It will dissolve and give it a perfect new flavor. Or substitute it with half of your sugar for a cake. Or all of the sugar for your cake! Make as much or as little as you want. But I made the above amount to put into about 16 apple cobblers, that tasted just like a hot and wonderful caramel apple. 

Enjoy! Happy eating!