Friday, February 10, 2006

Caramel Sauce (Page 873)

  • Date: Friday, February 10, 2006 - 7pm
  • Location: Somerville, MA
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Recipe Rating: D

The random number generator picked this one. Ok, yes, I realize it seems absurd that I gave a caramel sauce a D rating. You would expect that when you put sugar, heavy cream, and butter together, that only good things can happen! I'm nearly failing this recipe not because it always makes a bad caramel sauce but rather because I think there is no possible justification for them having chosen the method that they ask you to use for this recipe. I have made caramel dozens and dozens of times, and before tonight I had burnt it exactly once (the first time -- when I didn't know what I was doing). Tonight I made this caramel sauce not once, but twice, and both batches were inedibly burnt. In fact, after taking the photograph I scraped all the sauce off my ice cream before I ate it! Now, look carefully at the picture. Does it look burnt to you? This is the problem. The way you tell when caramel is done is by color. The second batch of sauce looked perfect. It was smooth, and creamy, and golden. It tasted terrrible though -- completely burnt! The usual method for making caramel involves dissolving some sugar in water and boiling until it turns golden. Now, it's true that in order for this to happen, you end up needing to boil off all the water that you added. So, this recipe employed an alternate method: put sugar (with no water) in a pot and melt it carefully, hoping it dissolves in its own juices before it begins to burn. True, this method is faster. But it is also way more difficult, and significantly less consistent. I gave this recipe a D because I think it is unfair to advise non-professional chefs to make their caramel this way. Even in culinary school, we were taught to do it with water. Why set people up for failure!?!?

Despite my ranting above, I was quite happy when I burned the first batch of caramel. I think it's good that I ruin things ever once in a while -- it means I am stretching myself. I never learn as much in the kitchen as I do when things are a total disaster. When I made the second batch I learned that I needed to correct even more than I had anticipated in order to produce a non-burnt result! It was a learning experience. Unfortunately I ran out of cream before I could make a third batch. I would have though -- the best way to learn is to keep doing it.

After the caramel fiasco, Bridget came over for a girls night in, complete with a chick flick and an enormous bowl of popcorn! It was a very relaxing end to a busy, busy week.

No comments: