I’ve enjoyed having a good hot chocolate for most of my life. I’m not talking hot water and a packet of Swiss Miss, but perhaps something a bit more crafted. Is there anything better than a cup of hot warm chocolate goodness? I contend that there is not.
That is until I ran out of an appropriate source of chocolate one night. I was wanting something warm, rich, and comforting. Chocolate very nearly is the definition of such a thing. But I was out. What I did have, was a container with some homemade caramel sauce. The thought had never occurred to me that steamed hot caramel and milk might provide a nice warm cup of comfort.
Some quick poking around proved that I was not the first to have thought of it. The proliferation of Starbucks Caramel Lattes and other such nonsense means that sixteen year old girls have a firmer grasp on the hot beverage market than I do. Such is life. Continue reading →
I really like caramel. I take pride in making my own. It can be a shitty process, I’m not blind to that. You can easily burn the caramel, you can get crystallization, or you can get a napalm like splatter burn. Not interested? You can make it easily by boiling a closed can of condensed milk in water for two hours.
Credit Flickr user Pinot Dina for figuring it out. Drop a can of sweetened condensed milk into boiling water and, given a few hours, you’ll be rewarded with a can of sweet caramel. You’ll need to simmer the can for 2 hours, adding extra water as needed. You want the can constantly covered in water. After about two hours, remove the can and let it cool before you open it up, lest you napalm yourself with your hot new treat.
I’m not huge on store-bought caramel or the squeeze container stuff that you get a lot of places. Boo. Not dark enough, it’s just sweet and yellow. That’s no good. I do like a nice dark caramel and I can even forgive a little graininess if the taste is there. I went out to eat the other night and had something for dessert, if I’m being honest, I don’t even know what it was. It was good, however the caramel sauce made me want to flip the table over, with all the other food on it. I wasn’t the only one. It was a bit grainy, but it was perhaps the best caramel I’ve ever had, and that’s no joke. It was dark, it had that whole “real” caramelization thing going on. It was the only thing I remember about the dessert. Three days later, it’s still the only thing I remember. Such is the way with things that are done right, or even 3/4 right if they’re really spot on.
I decided to mess around with caramel a bit, just to see how close I could get to what I had the other night. Pretty dang close it turns out, and mine isn’t grainy to boot. Score one for me. There are two methods to making caramel. A wet and a dry method. The wet method involves mixing water and sugar, heating it up, and basically cooking out the water. The dry method involves just sugar in a pan. Being of simple constitution myself, I went the dry route. It’s fairly easy I think, and it worked for me, so why not you? Continue reading →
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