corn syrup free caramels

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Artisan Caramels (NO CORN SYRUP)

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

New Years may have come and gone, but I’ve still got a lot of foodie resolutions to accomplish. Besides for the typical “I’m finally going to lose those stubborn 20 lbs. I’ve been struggling with” promises, I decided to tackle some things in the kitchen this year, and I don’t just mean cooking diet food.

I meet people all the time and one of the questions I’m often asked is, “Are you a chef?”, and I never quite know what to say. Sure I’m a recipe developer who develops custom recipes for companies, writes for food magazines and teaches cooking classes, but am I a CHEF? To me, being a chef is not about the certificate (although I did go to culinary school) or which restaurant you work in. Being a chef means food is your passion, and you are constantly striving to keep with the times and get better at what you do.

Being a chef, to me, means you watch cooking shows and read food magazines in your free time. It means you experiment with cooking techniques and ingredients and you’re never satisfied with the status quo. It means you must try the latest sous vide machine and keep up with the ever-changing food trends. It means you don’t say “I don’t do pastry” or “Smoking is not my thing”.

So when I thought about my foodie resolutions this year, I decided that I have to try everything at least once. There’s no more “I don’t bake” or “I don’t do dough”. If food is my passion (it is!), then I want to be well versed in all things food. Over the past few months, I’ve been taking this commitment to heart, and I’m happy to say I’ve mastered these things in 2015:

✔️ made my own sourdough bread
✔️ learned to cook sous vide
✔️ made a variety of pickled vegetables
✔️ Used fondant for the first time
✔️ Created my own blend of dukkah
✔️ Cooked with plantains
✔️ Made homemade krembos
✔️ Made bread bowls for soup
✔️ Spiralized everything!
✔️ Learned to tolerate cilantro (this is a real victory for me!)
✔️ Made cauliflower everything (rice, couscous, buns, pizza crust, nachos chips)

Now for 2016, some of my foodie resolutions included:

✔️ Learn to smoke meats
✔️ Make kimchi
✔️ Make homemade soft pretzels
✔️ Make my own laffa and pita
✔️ Experiment with flavored sugars and salts
✔️ Deep fry a poached egg
✔️ Make egg yolk ravioli
✔️ Make caramel
✔️ Bake with kataifi

I’m happy to say that as of this writing, I’ve already made homemade pita, and obviously I’ve mastered the art of homemade caramel!

I have to hand it all to my dear foodie friend Melinda Strauss of kitchen-tested, the caramel queen! ‘Mels are even part of Melinda’s name, that’s just how much caramel runs through her veins. She used to sell the most incredible nondairy caramels, aptly named caraMELS, and when I decided to take on the caramel challenge, I knew just who to turn to!

The truth is, this dedicated caramel post was never supposed to happen. Instead, I was working on a special PECAN TURTLE recipe for next week’s blogoversary post, and when I posted pics of the caramel making process, everyone went gaga with requests. And since the caramel making process was a journey in itself (it took three tries to get it right), I decided it deserved a dedicated post.

Melinda gave me a basic recipe to work with, and she really held my hand through the process. Mel and I both have a passion for health-minded recipes, and we both decided that pulling off a corn-syrup-free caramel would be an amazing feat. Most homemade caramel recipes call for corn syrup, and they are a lot easier to make, but I was up for the challenge. After my second batch burnt though, I was feel frustrated and almost ready to give up. But I persevered and boy was it worth it!

The best part about working on three batches of these babies was being able to play around with the ratios to make the perfect combination of chewiness and buttery flavor. Mel was kind of worried when I wanted to add more cream and butter but the proportions worked out perfectly in the end. #thirdtimesacharm.

Stay tuned for a special blogoversary post next week featuring this caramel!


Related Recipes:

s’mores toffee bark
speculoos toffee party mix

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