Despite a few bumps in the road, caramel and I have always been on good terms. I’ve had a good, safe method that I’m comfortable with: add sugar and water to a pot, be careful not to get any crystals on the sides of the pot, stir in some corn syrup for safety, bring to a simmer, be careful to brush down any crystals on the sides of the pot, watch carefully while it darkens, be careful to swirl the pan instead of stir with anything that might have sugar crystals on it. It worked…as long as I was careful.
I knew there was this no-water method, in which sugar is melted directly, instead of dissolved in water first. But it seemed so much safer to add water and dissolve the sugar first, despite all the being careful that that method entailed. I assumed I’d try the other method eventually, but, for years, I was nervous.
I finally took the plunge this weekend, and, friends? Dive right in, because the water is just fine.
Directly melting the sugar is so much easier! Why does anyone bother with that troublesome water method? It takes twice as long, and there’s all this being careful to be careful about. Just put the sugar in a pot, turn the heat on, stir when it starts to melt and keep stirring as it darkens, which takes just a few minutes. And then if you want a real treat, mix in some heavy cream and eggs for a smooth, creamy, thick custard that has a hint of burnt sugar – a hint you hardly had to work for.