Caramel – An Important Building Block of Pastry

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2017. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY PASTRIES LIKE A PRO UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Finished Caramel (1 of 1)Caramel is one of the basic building blocks of pastry – also known as component parts or foundations.  It can be used as a part of a recipe, as a sauce or a candy.  There are several ways of making caramel.  The simplest is to liquify sugar until deeply golden then add cream.  But taking a different route offers a deeper, richer caramel.

We used a lot of caramel at the shop and never found a smooth, buttery caramel that tasted as good and was the correct consistency without making our own.   So we did!  Sometimes there was so much caramel going, you would think we were a candy shop instead of a bakery.  If you are not using the caramel immediately, it will keep well at room temperature when it is cool. Refrigerate it if the weather is warm or the butter will separate.  To warm it for spreading, microwave briefly.  Do not overheat or over stir a lot, as the butter will separate and rise to the top.  If this happens, pour off the melted butter.  For any recipe calling for caramel, you can do as we did and make this several days in advance.  Warm to use.

Once you taste this caramel, it will spoil any other caramel for you.  To use it for a sauce after it has been made, place it in a saucepan and add a bit more cream.  Heat gently, stirring from time to time.  If it is too thick, add a bit more cream. Remember the caramel sauce will thicken at room temperature so make it a bit thinner than you want the finished sauce to be when cooled.

As one of the most important building blocks in pastry, I wanted to get this posted as there are upcoming recipes using this caramel.

CaramelCaramel ingredients 1/2 cup cold water
3/4 cup sugar (150 grams or 5 1/3 ounces)
1 tablespoon corn syrup
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup 40% cream, hot
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Place the water, sugar and the corn syrup in a 2-quart saucepan.  Sugar, cornsyrup and waterStir over heat until the sugar is dissolved completely.  Bring to a boil; wash sides of pan down with a natural bristle pastry brush dipped in cold water,Washing pan downthen boil without stirring until the mixture becomes a medium golden color. Boiled to medium golden colorOff heat, immediately add the butter and stir until it is melted.  Butter meltingCombine the cream and vanilla then stir in all at once. If some of the cream lumps up don’t worry.  It will dissolve as it continues to cook.  Cream pouring inReturn to medium high heat and bring to a boil.  Boil to 234 degrees on a candy thermometer.  Pour into a bowl.  Pour into bowlDo not stir at this point as it can become granular if you do.  Allow it to come to room temperature.  Refrigerate for longer storage.

Yield:  3/4 cup or 215 grams or about 7 ounces

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2 thoughts on “Caramel – An Important Building Block of Pastry

  1. Gay DeMichele

    Hi Helen, I’ve really enjoyed your blog and have recommended to others. Love this one on caramel-here’s my question. Can I make a frosting from this caramel recipe? My dayghter’s birthday is coming and she loves banana cake w/caramel frosting and I always have a problem with the frosting. Keep up the great work! Gay DeMichele.

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Gay: Thanks so munch. Coming from you, that means a lot. I agree with you regarding caramel frosting. I have never found one that doesn’t get granular after a bit. I have never tried to turn this into a frosting. I doubt it would work because if you over stir it, it will granulate. This won’t be in time for her birthday, but look in for the February 20th blog, which features a Banana Caramel Tart with Rum pastry Cream and a Praline Sprinkle.

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