If you already know how to make a dry caramel then please ignore everything below, ooh… or read it and then comment!
If you have seen the Great British Bake Off, the now very famous UK baking competition, you will have seen a few competitors burning their caramel. One baker burnt 3 pans of caramel before they were finally successful. You do have to be very very careful but it really is not difficult.
1. Use a heavy-based saucepan (medium-sized). I use a Le Creuset saucepan, but other kinds are fine too.
2. Put the sugar in the saucepan and heat it over a low to medium heat.
3. DO NOT STIR THE SUGAR IN THE PAN… EVER!
4. If you like you can move the sugar around by shaking the pan slightly from one side to another. DO NOT STIR.
5. If you have a lot of sugar on the sides you could brush it down with a wet pastry brush (when the sugar has started melting) but be careful to NOT STIR with it.
6. BE PATIENT. You will see some of the sugar melt and go brown. You’ll see some other parts stay white. That’s okay. Shake the pan a bit but not a lot because you don’t want sugar flying up around the sides (I won’t repeat the bit about not stirring).
7. Stay patient and caramel zen but PAY ATTENTION. The sugar will slowly all turn to a golden caramel liquid but don’t go away and watch TV or anything like that, don’t even do the washing up. I suggest you watch your future caramel like a hawk because it could go black and bitter very quickly if you don’t pay attention (as the Great British Bake Off competitor realised).
9. Use the caramel quite quickly before it goes hard and if you’re pouring a liquid into it do this very very slowly, little by little in a thin stream and carefully, while you stir simultaneously. If you add milk or cream quickly in one go it will bubble up violently, the pan will become a mini volcano spurting lava, and you’ll lose more than half your caramel.
EMERGENCY PLAN B: If it is too dark or has crystals in it, throw the caramel away, clean your saucepan and start again. If you have a pan with hard caramel in it, fill it with water and bring it to a boil it on medium heat so that the caramel turns to liquid again and you can clean the pan. Yes, I speak from experience here! 🙂
ALTERNATIVE PLAN C: If you don’t like making dry caramel then you can do what my mum decided to do. Make a caramel that includes water in the recipe.
But I know you can make dry caramel and then write to say how easy it was! And so help convince my mum too. 🙂