Caramel may look easy, but it’s a tricky technique to master!
- The sugar you’re using might be older and ‘contaminated’.
Too many small particles in the sugar give the crystals something to form on, and too much moisture in old sugar can also hamper smooth and even caramelization.
- There may be sugar crystals sticking to the sides of your pan.
Those sugar crystals will attract other crystals and form a thing, chalky ring of crystals around the pan that won’t dissolve into nice caramel.
To prevent this, be careful when adding your ingredients that they don’t splash onto the sides of the pan. You can also wet a pastry brush and wipe down the sides of the pan, but be careful that you aren’t just spreading around the sugar.
- Don’t scrape up the caramel stuck to the bottom of the pan, if there is any.
Again, it’ll attract sugar crystals.
- You can also add an acid into your mix to help stop crystals from forming.
Corn syrup works well, as does citric acid. You’ll only need a very small amount of either.
It can take a little time to get down a technique that works for you, so don’t feel bad if you have to try a few different approaches before you find one that sticks. That’s part of the learning process!