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How come I can't seem to make caramel?

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
So I am trying to make caramel cream cheese filling and buttercream to supplement an apple-flavored cake (recipes are all from martha stewart's cake decorating book). The apple cake came out great, but I can't make the caramel part of the filling to save my life.

I tried 3 times with 4 1/2 c sugar and 2/3 c water. The first time I followed the recipe exactly - combining water and sugar and cooking over medium high heat, stirring occasionally until sugar has dissolved and washing down the sides with a pastry brush. I then brought it to a boil without stirring, let it boil and boil, and it never turned any sort of amber color, it just turned into a crystallized mess.

Try #2 i stirred it hardly at all (I thought i could have been over-stirring in the beginning the first time) and the same thing happened.

Try #3 I did the entire process at a medium-low heat, i was super careful in washing down the sides of the pot and in making sure all the sugar was dissolved before it boiled, and it still crystallized on me...I even tried to scoop out the sugar crystals i saw forming on the surface, but no luck there either.

Sigh. Any suggestions?
post #2 of 31
I have the same problem myself. Maybe we can both find out.
post #3 of 31
I don't understand the med-low heat. Turn it up as high as it will go to keep the flames inside the pot. Everything else is perfect.

Mike
post #4 of 31
Are you using a candy thermometer? Just boiling and boiling it isn't telling you that it's reaching the correct temp. It takes a while. Try making it using a candy thermometer.
post #5 of 31
A really easy way to make caramel is to take a can of sweetened condensed milk - open the can, dump it in a small heavy saucepan and cook it, make sure to keep stirring it (it will scortch easy) - when it is close to what you want take it off the stove - it will thicken some when cooled. Since doing it this way, I have never made caramel the old way again.
Knowledge is a candle that when shared, doubles the light, but the insecure person believes knowledge is a candle that is diminished when it is split between two wicks.
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Knowledge is a candle that when shared, doubles the light, but the insecure person believes knowledge is a candle that is diminished when it is split between two wicks.
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post #6 of 31
Thread Starter 
thanks for the replies - I did use a candy thermometer the last time, it got to 275 before it went bad...

And i don't have any flames inside my pot? I didn't know you were supposed to - how does this work??

And would sweetened condensed milk be fine to use in filling/buttercream? would you have to refrigerate it? (sorry I'm naive I've never used it for anything before)
post #7 of 31
Yes, you can use the sweetened condensed milk (cooked to caramel) just fine. (it is all the ingredients used to make REAL caramels - which are not refrigerated either) It is the only way I make caramel filling now. YUMMY.
Knowledge is a candle that when shared, doubles the light, but the insecure person believes knowledge is a candle that is diminished when it is split between two wicks.
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Knowledge is a candle that when shared, doubles the light, but the insecure person believes knowledge is a candle that is diminished when it is split between two wicks.
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post #8 of 31
Loucinda - do you add the caramel to anything before using it as a filling, or just 'as is' slather all the yummy goodness between those layers? icon_wink.gif
If you get melted chocolate all over your hands, you're eating it too slowly. ~Unknown
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If you get melted chocolate all over your hands, you're eating it too slowly. ~Unknown
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post #9 of 31
Loucinda: do you cook the milk on med or med high, what temp do you use?
post #10 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by V-dizzy

thanks for the replies - I did use a candy thermometer the last time, it got to 275 before it went bad...

And i don't have any flames inside my pot? I didn't know you were supposed to - how does this work??

And would sweetened condensed milk be fine to use in filling/buttercream? would you have to refrigerate it? (sorry I'm naive I've never used it for anything before)



Just keep the flames to the bottom of the pot. Don't turn it up so high where the flames start up the sides.
Yeah you need more heat.
Mike
post #11 of 31
I ususally just slather the yummy caramel on there! (you can mix it with a buttercream, just don't cook it as long so it will incorporate easier)

I use medium - low heat, and remember to STIR constantly. It takes a while to get it where I want it - I never have timed it, but it is like 10 minutes or so on med.-low heat. You can tell when it is getting thicker and a nice rich caramel color.
Knowledge is a candle that when shared, doubles the light, but the insecure person believes knowledge is a candle that is diminished when it is split between two wicks.
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Knowledge is a candle that when shared, doubles the light, but the insecure person believes knowledge is a candle that is diminished when it is split between two wicks.
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post #12 of 31
THANKS, Loucinda, so much....
hungry now... icon_wink.gif Gonna go get on the elliptical - I think I just gained 5 lbs reading this thread and thinking about it! LOL!!!
If you get melted chocolate all over your hands, you're eating it too slowly. ~Unknown
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If you get melted chocolate all over your hands, you're eating it too slowly. ~Unknown
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post #13 of 31
You're welcome! icon_smile.gif It may take longer than the 10 minutes, (like I said I have never timed it!) You will be able to tell when it is right by the color and consistency. It is to die for yummy!! icon_wink.gif
Knowledge is a candle that when shared, doubles the light, but the insecure person believes knowledge is a candle that is diminished when it is split between two wicks.
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Knowledge is a candle that when shared, doubles the light, but the insecure person believes knowledge is a candle that is diminished when it is split between two wicks.
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post #14 of 31
Loucinda,

That's all you use if the sweetened cnodensed milk? You don't add anything else. How much caramel do you get when it is finished cooking - 1 cup?

Do you let it cook completely before using as a filling? Do you do more than one can at a time? Can you keep leftovers and reuse? If you stored in the refrig do you need to warm it up before using again?

Sorry for all of the questions but if this is as good as you say - then I need to try it. Sounds soooooo good!

Thanks
post #15 of 31
If you add a small amount of corn syrup to your sugar and water, it helps keep the sugar from crystallizing.

We used the following percentages:
100 percent sugar
30 percent water
10 percent corn syrup

Cook until it is the color you want, Stir and wash down crystals before it boils, but not after, though you can gently swirl the pan.

If you start with 4 1/2 cups sugar, that is 900 grams as your 100 percent. Then 30 percent would be 270 grams of water or 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons. ( I'm sure just one cup would be fine )Then you'd use 90 grams of corn syrup- just over 1/4 cup. (So much easier to use metric weights!)

If you don't have corn syrup, but have a lemon, a bit of lemon juice will also inhibit crystallization.

We used to make dulce de leche by cooking sweetened condensed milk submerged in the unopened can for a few hours which is pretty much the same thing Loucinda makes (but she more sanely doesn't have the potential drama of an exploding can) and it is above fabulous, but not at all the same thing as the caramelized sugar you are asking about.
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