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Caramel woes...

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I've been interested in making my own chewy caramel. The problem is
the recipes. I went to this site...
which discusses the science of candy and they say after the syrup
begins to boil you CANNOT stir it.
The trouble is, while the syrup is merrily boiling away as I watch with my
candy thermometer still reading a constant 218 F the bottom is scortching. They say to bring the whole temperature up to 245 F but only the bottom gets that hot if not hotter and burns, the top is still boiling.
What am I doing wrong? My flame is pretty low and some of the syrup is still boiling but they say don't mix it or it will develop crystals and the whole thing will be ruined...
should I mix it despite what they say? should the flame be almost non-existently low? What am I doing wrong?

Any help would be appreciated!
post #2 of 6
My first thoughts are:
1. Where is the thermometer in the pot, that it continues to register 218 degrees?
2. How heavy is the pot you're using? A thin pot is not good -- the stuff in it is more likely to scorch.

But for the best help, I'm moving this to Baking Questions, where the folks who REALLY know can see your question.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
post #3 of 6


I love making caramels, so here are my two cents...
If you are making a caramel (just sugar and some water), then you do not want to stir it, but if you are making soft/chewy caramels (with milk, cream or butter), you will want to stir it constantly while it is cooking. However, from your description of the problem I agree with Suzanne, your pot may be too thin.

Also -before you try this again, make sure you calibrate your thermometer. Even a few degrees off and your caramel will be too hard to chew!
post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 
So it's weird, I turned the heat way up, to medium-high (found in one recipe), and it vigorously boiled which i guess helped mix it so that it didn't scorch and evenly raised the temperature to 243oF without burning.

I should invest in a good candy thermometer...I'm using a meat thermometer right now...It measured boiling water at 209oF so it's relatively accurate...I let the sugar boil a bit hotter...unfortunately I didn't have any corn-syrup left over after ruining the first batch.
I tried using vinegar to invert the sugar to prevent crystallizing but it didn't help, I got a big crystally mess. I have to try it again with corn-syrup.

Thanks for the help! I'll try your suggestions as well. I'll get a heavier pot and a better candy-thermometer.

post #5 of 6
My instructions are different.They state to stir almost constantly to prevent curdling and scorching. They further instruct to keep sides of saucepan wiped free of sugar crystals with a damp cloth-covered fork or pastry brush.
post #6 of 6

What type of pot are you using?

Are you using a pot with a thick bottom? I don't very often make candies, but when I make toffee at Christmas, I use a very heavy bottom pot, such as that made by Paderno, and I usually have success. Hope this helps.
Country Cook
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