The first thing that pops into my mind when I think of caramel is smooth, chewy, sticky amber-colored syrup that is rich with the flavor of butter and brown sugar. Caramel can take so many more forms, from those sticky syrups to crunchy candies, and author Trish Deseine explores many of them in a cookbook dedicated to the dessert, Caramel.
Sugar has a reputation of being difficult to work with. Not only do you need a candy thermometer (most of the time) in order to monitor its progress as it cooks and caramelizes, but the addition of a mere few grains of undissolved sugar can ruin a potful of caramel by turning it grainy, ruining the texture. The first thing that the book does is cover the basics of making caramel, starting with nothing but a stock pile of high quality ingredients, like sugar, butter and heavy cream. The instructions are concise, but clear, and are very easy to follow – a pattern which is seen in every recipe in the book, not just in the introduction.
There are about 100 recipes and they are grouped together with others that have similar ingredients, when possible. This makes it quite easy to browse through the book when you’re looking to use up a specific ingredient. If you have bananas in the kitchen, you’ll probably find yourself looking at “three simple ways to serve caramelized bananas.”Most of the recipes are accompanied by photos, and the photography in the book is excellent. It is also worth noting that Deseine doesn’t limit her exploration of caramel to just sweet dishes. There are many pairings of caramel+savory in the book that explore the limits of burnt sugar and really give you something to play with, if you’re so inclined.