Wednesday, July 13, 2011

"Winging It" and Caramel Don't Mix

When I went to Denver last month I had a cinnamon roll that was covered in caramel instead of frosting.

Blew my mind. It was A-Ma-Zing. I took it as a personal challenge.

The cinnamon rolls came out pretty well. The yeast didn't work quite as well as normal, but they still rose some. Good enough. Ive made these cinnamon rolls often enough that I don't read the recipe. I just kinda wing it.

I've made caramel before, so I just decided to kinda wing that one too. Bad idea. You see, to make caramel, you mix sugar and water and heat it. Once the water boils away the temperature starts to rise and the sugar starts to burn. Caramel is burned sugar. The color of the mixture starts to darken and the flavor of the caramel gets a bit stronger.

I thought I would just watch the color of the caramel and know when to pull it from the heat intuitively. Not so much. If the sugar gets too dark, it gets bitter and nasty. This batch got bitter and nasty.

Even though it was 10:30 in the PM, I decided to try it again. Since I had used most of my supplies, I had to go to the store and get more cream. I tried it again, this time using the correct equipment. That is to say, I used an actual thermometer to tell when the sugar had caramelized to the correct degree. But this time I stirred it to much and the sugar crystallized out. I wasn't prepared to accept failure this time. I added several cups of water and wisked the crap out of it until all of the little crystals dissolved. And then I re-boiled it (with a thermometer) to be able to pull it off at the correct temperature. It worked this time.

And it was good... See?


  1. Damn! Why don't you live closer to me?!!?

  2. Yum, those look really good! I've had the same problem with caramel but I finally found an easy microwave caramel recipe that turns out every time. It's especially great for caramel popcorn. I can share with you if you want it, just let me know.