This is not difficult to make but you just need to keep an eye on your caramel so it doesn’t burn. And yet you must also be brave and wait till it looks darker and flavoursome, because if it’s too light your caramel will taste sugary and have very little character. Practice makes perfect. And if you’re careful you’ll even get it right first time.
This is a 3-saucepan operation. Synchronise your
watches pans. Big pan A has the caramel-to-be, small pan B the warm water and small pan C the warm cream mix.
- Medium pan A: 150g/3/4 cup sugar, 40g/2 tablespoons glucose, 60ml/g water
- Small pan B: 90ml/g water
- Small pan C: 160ml/g whipping cream 35% or double cream, 40g/3 tbsp + 1 tsp sugar, 2 pinches fine sea salt, 2 and 1/2 ml/g (half a teaspoon) pure vanilla essence
- Keep your 2 small saucepans (B and C) over very low heat so their contents stay warm, but not simmering or boiling. Take them off heat at intervals if necessary.
- Put pan A on lower heat till the sugar and glucose dissolve in the water then bring to the boil. Now you can put a lid or bowl on top for 5 minutes to encourage steam, which dissolves and cleans any crystals from the sides of the pan.
- Boil till you get a darker caramel that will give your cake more flavour (if you want to check with a sugar thermometre it will be around 190-194°C). Be brave and wait it out but don’t wander off to water your plants. If you let your caramel go too dark and bitter you’ll need to start again.
- As soon as you get the correct darkness (dark brown, not black and with a slight burnt smell, but not too much) carefully pour the warm water from pan B into the caramel to stop it cooking (décuire in French).
- Next very carefully and slowly whisk in the cream mix from pan C, pouring it in a thin stream. It sometimes bubbles up violently and if you’re not careful you’ll have Mount Vesuvius with caramel lava flowing over the sides (speaking from past experience).
- Pour into a clean metal or glass bowl to cool at room temperature. It needs to be at around 30°C/86°F for incorporating in a mousse or glaze.
Each time you make it you’ll probably find your caramel base is never quite the same. Sometimes thicker, thinner, sweeter, … Not a problem. Eventually you’ll work out how you like it best and how to get there. I know I like mine a little darker so you can taste slightly burnt caramel and not just sugar. Give it a go… actually all the caramels are lovely! 🙂