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Butter, sugar & cream makes caramel. Oh, and happy.

June 15, 2010

Yesterday I made a completely FAIL apple crumble (how someone could mess up apple crumble is beyooond me), and today I made an epic FAIL mousse. But y’know what? I am still like this inside:

Smiling on the inside. You see, I did succeed in making caramel. I was going to try to shortcut my way through Pete’s luxe caramel apple crumble pie. Then using the same caramel I was going to make some caramel milk chocolate mousse. And before I go ahead and tell you how I epic failed, I still highly recommend you try the recipes, because I kinda didn’t. Ok, I really didn’t. The first time I was being lazy, and the second time I had read over the recipe so many times I thought I had it memorised, and then the temperature required in two different steps got mixed up. Yeah. Shush.

Lesson number one for apple crumble: do not put raw apple and caramel in oven and expect the apple to cook properly within your lifetime. Also…apple emits a lot more water than you’d think. Also, do not put the whole crumble in a saucepan and heat it like mad, hoping to use it as the bottom of another apple crumble. Although, incidentally, you can add this failed mixture to your porridge, and it will be pretty tasty. Or even eat it once it’s all cold, although please don’t go and fail an apple crumble on purpose to do this. You need to cook the apple first, okay? Just remember that.

Lesson number two for mousse: double check steps just before you do them, rather than trying to memorise them. If the mousse separates out after you’ve already added the cream, do not throw away the mixture. Melt it down and at least you’ll have a very rich, VERY TASTY hot caramel chocolate (don’t do this with egg based mousse though).

Ultimately, I realised that:

  1. There is basically no bad way to combine butter, sugar and cream. You can muck up the texture, but it’ll still taste just damn fine. And I do mean damn fine.
  2. There is always a remedy for such combinations gone wrong.
  3. Caramel is sooooo much easier and quicker to make than I thought.

So, to focus on point #3. Let’s make some happy stuff.

Caramel (dry method) from Irina at PastryPal

The mousse recipe has a great series of pictures that shows the whole process. I like the dry process because it takes very little time, whereas waiting for sugar to dissolve in water? Yawn. Although, if you’re interested in a lower-fat caramel, the stuff Pete uses for his pie uses the same proportion of sugar but less cream. Cool. Still, I am impatient, and like cream.

Makes about 1 1/2c caramel. Quite liquidy when hot, but becomes the consistency of soft wax when refrigerated.

  • 2/3c white sugar
  • 85g unsalted butter, chopped
  • 1c cream
  • optional: pinch sea salt

Start by getting out all your measured ingredients, a metal whisk, and a saucepan or semi deep frypan that has a lightly coloured cooking surface. Heat the pan on medium high heat, and sprinkle a thin, even layer of sugar over the surface of the pan, plus salt if using. Once the sugar melts, sprinkle another layer on – it should melt pretty quick – and continue this process until all the sugar is gone. Swirl the pan around to ensure even browning. The sugar will go golden, then golden brown. Once all the sugar is melted, add the butter lumps and whisk in. Once incorporated, add a splash of cream, and whisk in – be careful as it will bubble a lot. Repeat until all the cream is gone. Once cream is fully incorporated, remove the pan from the heat and let cool before pouring into a container.

Do not even begin to ask me what you could use it in. It’s caramel. The short answer: everything.

By the way, I do intend to bring you caramel apple crumble at some point. Maybe after I’ve finished with the first fail mixture. There’s…quite a lot of it.

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