What ex­actly is the dif­fer­ence be­tween caramel and burnt sugar?

The Guardian - Cook - - The Delia Project -

that.” There is a cru­cial word miss­ing here, and that word was “small”. If your saucepan is too large, the whole process will hap­pen too quickly. There are two things that can go wrong. The first is that you can end up with burnt caramel. The sec­ond is that the caramel will go hard quicker than you ex­pect, and the big­ger the saucepan, the more of a risk that you will end up with a left­over chunk of solid caramel half­way up the pan. You should use your small­est saucepan on your small­est ring.

“Now take the pan off the heat, and add two ta­ble­spoons of warm tap wa­ter,” says Delia. I’m not quite sure why it is that Delia de­cided to write this recipe with­out re­fer­ring to a ket­tle at any point, but her pre­ferred op­tion is to use warm wa­ter, straight from the tap. As reg­u­lar read­ers will know, my kitchen is get­ting on a bit, and one of the con­se­quences is that to make sure the boiler gets the idea and ac­tu­ally starts pro­duc­ing hot wa­ter, you have to turn the hot tap all the way up. For­tu­nately, you can achieve the same ef­fect by us­ing wa­ter from the ket­tle.

“Stand back as it may splut­ter a bit at this stage,” Delia ad­vises. The word “may” in fact means “al­ways”. Then “pour into your souf­fle dish – any­thing heat­proof you can put in an oven will do – and coat the edges with your caramel”. At this point, if you are prone to fret­ting, you may worry that the sugar is burnt. What I can con­firm, hav­ing done sev­eral run-throughs, is that while – if you have never made caramel be­fore – you may worry that you have sim­ply burnt sugar, once you ac­tu­ally burn some sugar you will never con­fuse the two again. The good news is that the next part is the eas­i­est: you pour the milk and cream into an­other pan and leave it to heat gen­tly while you whisk to­gether the eggs, vanilla ex­tract and re­main­ing sugar in a large bowl. Then you add all that to your caramel-lined dish and put that dish in a roast­ing tin.

I’m not sure who was to blame for what went wrong next. What you are ac­tu­ally sup­posed to do – and in­deed, Delia’s web­site is very clear on this point – is to pour wa­ter (it can be hot or cold) into the roast­ing tin and let the dish gen­tly float in there. But in my copy of How to Cook, at least, it is not en­tirely clear whether or not the wa­ter should be in­side or out­side the dish. I flip a coin and add the wa­ter into the dish, which turns out to be a cat­a­strophic mis­take. The fin­ished prod­uct col­lapses on the plate and leaks. In­ad­ver­tently, I have in­vented a creme caramel-flavoured drink. Once I have de­canted the liq­uid, the un­happy pud­ding is very rich but so flat as to be one-di­men­sional, although the flavour holds up sur­pris­ingly well. Sigh­ing, I turn to Google once more, and type in the fol­low­ing: “Home de­liv­ery dessert”. The re­sult­ing pud­ding is much bet­ter.

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