There is no better season for making caramel sauce than the fall. This thick, sweet, and silky confection is perfect for drizzling over cider donuts, coating caramel apples, or layering into a cozy chocolate caramel tart. If you aren't used to the quirks of making caramel, however, you may run into some issues, particularly when it comes to the texture of the sauce. If you find that your caramel ends up grainy no matter what you do, you may be stirring it too much and too soon.
Making caramel begins as a process of heating sugar and water until it thickens and darkens. This first stage is a crucial moment in determining the texture of your caramel. Ideally, the sugar crystals will dissolve into the water, creating a smooth caramel. This can take time, however, and if you stir the mixture too excessively early on, you may end up splashing the liquid up onto the sides of the cooking pot. There, the water left behind quickly evaporates and the sugar re-crystallizes. These crystals then end up getting into the finished caramel, causing further crystallization and creating that unpleasant grainy texture.
How To Properly Make Caramel Sauce
The key to making a flawlessly smooth and creamy caramel sauce is primarily patience. As tempting as it may be to stir the sugar and water solution to speed up its progress, it's simply not worth it. Instead, wait until the mixture has taken on a golden color. If you are worried about the sugar darkening evenly, you can gently swirl the pan to redistribute the sugar without splashing any on the sides. Once it is golden, add the amount of milk or cream listed in your preferred caramel sauce recipe and then whisk to combine. This thicker stage stands up much better to stirring and has far less risk of crystallization. Toward the end of the process, you can add a knob of butter to the pot for an extra creamy, shiny sauce.
If you've already made the mistake of early stirring, there's no need to give up. You may be able to save your caramel with one of two steps. First, if you have noticed sugar crystals beginning to form on the side of your pot, you can use a pastry brush dipped in water to wash away the crystals so that they re-dissolve into the mixture. If the crystals have already gotten into your caramel, on the other hand, and have caused the entire batch to become grainy, it's better to simply add more water into the caramel and re-boil it to break down the crystals and smooth out the texture.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.