I thought I had inherited a skill from my mom. She does this AMAZING thing, where she makes a recipe once and it turns out fabulous.
Or she tries a recipe for the first time and makes it better. And then, as if to give a giant swear finger to any nervousness she might have, she makes these first time recipes for dinner parties.
I thought I had developed this skill. And so I approached a rather tricky and temperamental recipe with my mother’s bravado. Salted caramels. I decided to go with Ina Garten’s recipe. She usually solid when it comes to butter/cream concoctions. Here’s what happened:
First, I gathered everything.
Then I put the corn syrup, sugar and a bit of water into the pan, thusly:
And I turned on the heat. First it starts to look like this. It should be said I did NOT stir this pan- at all.
Here’s where it gets funny. You have to watch this like a baby. It needs to get some colour. I read several recipes before trying this, and no one was able to give definitive explanation of when it’s time to turn off the heat. Some described at “golden” others preferred the term “warm”. It was difficult. So, here is where I decided it was good enough:
I left it for a couple more seconds/minute and pulled it off the heat. Then I added the cream and butter (which I had melted and heated through). Every recipe I read that when you pour in the cream it will react “violently”. Seriously. We couldn’t decide on a term for the colour we want the sugar, but we all called this reaction violent:
Yes. So very violent. Then I followed directions at this point and put it back on the heat and used the candy thermometer. According to directions I needed to cook this to 248 degrees.
Then it was time to pull this stuff off. And put it into a pan to cool, then I would cut it up, sprinkle some fleur de sel and impress everyone.
This is what ended up happening:
I was not impressed.
But I would not be defeated. This time I turned to Jacques Pepin’s recipe for caramel sauce (maybe if I was going for sauce it would be better?).
I thought wrong. Here is my second attempt:
One friend told me it looked like beef tenderloin.
My father told me he “knew I had messed it up” and proceeded to give me tips on how to make it the next time.
I have been momentarily defeated.
I will try again.