Making your own homemade caramel is a delicious treat, and it also makes a wonderful gift! Caramel is a lot easier to make than it looks. Although many recipes are difficult to get exactly right, there are a few tricks to making the perfect caramel:
- Gather supplies and ingredients. You’ll need a good, heavy-duty saucepan or skillet, as well as a spatula able to withstand the high heat. It will work best if your saucepan is light-colored, so that you can see the caramel changing colors, but it’s not necessary. To make caramel, the only ingredient you’ll need is sugar. This is one of the easiest candy recipes to make because it does not require any special equipment or ingredients.
- Prepare to make caramel. Because making caramel involves cooking sugar to a relatively high temperature, wear oven mitts and a long sleeved shirt. Melted sugar is very hot, so be careful not to splatter yourself with it. You should also have a bowl of icy water nearby, in case of burns. Be especially careful if there are children around.
- Cooking your caramel. Start with an even layer of sugar in the pan (about 10 to 12 tablespoons). Heat it over medium heat, and it will start to liquefy. Once it starts to brown at the edges, make sure you are stirring it, to prevent any spots from burning. However, do not stir consistently- stir just enough to keep it from burning. Be patient, and after about 10 minutes the caramel will begin to turn a light brown color. Turn down the heat slightly, or your caramel will cook too quickly.
- Cook until exactly the right stage. When making caramel, be sure to cook it to just the right color and flavor. Undercooked caramel will not have achieved that caramel flavor, and it will just taste sweet. On the other hand, overcooked caramel tastes burnt. The caramel should be dark, reddish-brown, and just starting to smoke. Many people can tell by smell when the caramel is done. It will turn from “almost-there” to burnt in just a few moments, so make sure you are paying attention when the caramel is getting close to done.
- Enjoy! Once your caramel has finished cooking, remove it from the heat immediately. To stop the cooking process, submerge the base of the pan in cold water. Do not pour the caramel onto a plate when it’s hot, or it will be very difficult to remove once it has cooled. You can serve your caramel in many ways. Try dipping slices of fruit into your caramel!
It does take practice, but you can reduce your mistakes if you follow these tips for making the perfect caramel. Caramel is easy to make, since it is literally caramelized sugar. You can get creative and add chocolate, nuts, or other ingredients to your caramel, but it is also delicious when eaten plain.