Once you’ve mastered the art of making caramel you can use it for a whole host of tempting desserts and sweets from crème caramel to praline and toffee apples. Although it’s a very simple method of heating sugar and water together until it turns to liquid caramel you must take care that the syrup isn’t overcooked or the caramel will have a burnt flavour. Prepare everything before you start and take care as the caramel will be extremely hot.
- 200g caster sugar
- 100ml water
Place the sugar and water in a large heavy-based based. Heat gently, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Use a wet pastry brush to brush any sugar crystals from the side of the pan.
Increase the heat and let the mixture boil rapidly, without stirring, until the syrup starts to turn a pale golden colour. Swirl the pan occasionally to ensure the heat is distributed evenly and there are no hot spots which will result in burnt caramel. Don’t stir the caramel at this stage or it will become grainy.
Continue boiling the syrup for about 5 mins or until it has turned to a rich amber-coloured caramel. Remove the pan from the heat and plunge the base of the pan into a bowl of cold water. This will stop the caramel from cooking any further.
To set the caramel, pour it onto an oiled baking tray and leave until cold and hard. Break into pieces or finely crush in a blender. For nut brittle or praline stir toasted almonds, pecans or peanuts into the caramel before pouring onto the baking tray.
To make caramel sauce, add 75ml cold water or double cream to the hot caramel – the mixture will steam and splutter so protect your hands. Return the pan to the heat and heat gently, stirring, to re-melt any small lumps of caramel.