This recipe is probably one of the three easiest in the entire book. Or so it seems at first glance. All I had to do was make caramel, mix it with a weird super-light powder and serve. In reality, I had to make this twice. And I want to try it a third time once I’m back home because I feel like it could be better still.
This dish was also my contribution to the Thanksgiving dinner at my boyfriend’s parents place. I’ve been planning to make this for Thanksgiving for some time because it is easily transportable, and thus I could make it at home and work out the kinks there. I’m glad I did.
To start, I measured some sugar, light corn syrup, butter, and heavy cream (clockwise from top). The book calls for glucose, but the the light corn syrup was an adequate substitute.
The book says to heat the ingredients to 230 degrees and then pour the resulting caramel onto a silicone lined sheet tray to cool. The first time, my caramel stopped heating up at 220 degrees. After letting it cook at a steady 220 for at least five minutes, I decided to pour it. I figured that something was wrong with my thermometer and I was already over cooking it. It ended up cooling into a mostly liquid form that didn’t react with the aforementioned weird super-light powder as it should have. And I created the biggest mess I’ve made so far trying to add more weird super-light powder to the caramel in the food processor.
Pictures from the bad batch.
The weird super-light powder is tapioca maltodextrin, a food starch that adheres to fat instead of water. Tapioca maltodextrin can be found easily online. The powder is extremely light; the one pound bag I have is the size of a pillow. Because it’s so light, it makes a mess easily, I found. Mixing enough tapioca maltodextrin with any fatty substance will turn that substance into a powder. When that powder comes in contact with moisture, such as saliva, it re-constitutes into what it was before.
I did some more research after the first failed batch and learned that there was a reason why my caramel stopped heating at 220 degrees. Turns out that the structure of sugar begins changing at the stage. I just needed to wait longer. So I did that. But still, the second time, once the sugar mix had reached 230 degrees, it still wasn’t browning the way that caramel appears. So I let it reach 240-245 before taking it off the heat and pouring it out to cool. I knew that if I let it heat up any more, it would cool to a hard candy-like consistency instead of a soft-caramel consistency. Anyway, the difference is clear between the first and second batches. (I also halved the recipe for the second batch because it produces way more than you need).
This time, after cooling, the caramel mixed much better with the tapioca maltodextrin. I still had to add more than the book said though and in the end, my dry caramel was more crumby than powdery.
Nevertheless, the family loved it. The dry caramel truly does turn back into a soft and chewy caramel after being in your mouth for about five seconds.
I still want to try this recipe again and see if I can get more a powdery texture to the dry caramel. Based on what other people who have tried this recipe have said, it seems that the tapioca maltodextrin mixes better with the dry caramel the harder the dry caramel is at the beginning. Alas, that’s an experiment for when I get back home.