April 5th is National Caramel Day! If you'd like to celebrate this holiday by making caramel at home--here are some tips for making the perfect caramel from our chef and resident caramel expert, Justin Chao:
1> Cover your pan. If you are making caramel using the wet method (with sugar and water), cover your pan when the water begins to boil. The condensation from the cover will dissolve all the sugar that is stuck to the sides of the pan. Once the sugar is dissolved, take off the cover and continue cooking the caramel. By making sure that your sugar is fully dissolved, you will get a smooth, chewy caramel instead of a fudge or praline-like type of texture.
2> Use copper pots. Copper is a great conductor of heat and will give you a nice even heat so that your caramel does not scorch. We only use copper pots at Le Bon Garcon so that our caramels have the smoothest possible texture.
3> Let it rest. If you are making a dark caramel, it is really easy to overcook it. Overcooked caramel takes on a bitter, harsh flavor. The trick is to get the caramel just dark enough so it gives your recipe the most flavor without being too bitter. The best way to do this is to keep your caramel on the flame until it is almost at the color that you want it to be. Then turn off your burner and watch the caramel as it darkens to the desired color. When it’s just right, you can add the next ingredients or cool off the pot to stop it from cooking.