Monday, February 21, 2011

Caramel Let Down or Caramel Melt Down?

When I make caramels these days, I use lessons learned from previous attempts.  One of which is always scrape the sides of the pot into a bowl separate from the pan of poured caramels.  This makes it much easier to clean the pot and gives me a small amount of caramel to try.  From what I had in the bowl, I thought the goat milk caramels with orange were lacking orange, but had good set.  So when I grabbed the ends of the parchment to lift the caramel slab out of the pan, I was totally surprised at how soft it was. 

There are several possibilities of what may have occurred.  First and foremost is always my impatience.  Did I get tired of waiting and pour them too soon?  I didn't think so.  Second, there's the issue of the homemade sweetened condensed goat milk.  I used this on the coffee caramels I made and they had a soft set as well.  Third, it's possible that my thermometer is a bit inaccurate.  I noticed a small air bubble in the red stuff and wasn't really sure how/where to read it.

Now what do I do with this batch of soft goat milk caramels?  Caramel sauce is always an option, but I already have enough to keep me going for awhile.  A couple of other possibilities come to mind.  I think hiding a disc of caramel in some coconut cupcake batter could make for a pleasant surprise.  I'm also thinking of chilling some of them enough to hold their shape and dipping them in some dark chocolate.  Some tempered dark chocolate. 

Discs of goat milk caramels waiting for their fate. 
Can you see the flecks of orange zest? 
Too bad it's just for show.

Yes, I am going to attempt tempering chocolate.  I was reading up on it last night in a book on chocolate and confections from the Culinary Institute.  We talked about tempering extensively in Pastry class.  I've done this in class.  I should be able to handle it.  Should. 

A while back I bought a block of Callebaut bittersweet chocolate.  It got a little too warm at one time, so it will be out of temper before I begin.  Which is not a big deal given the tempering method I'm going to use.  Once I get it to the proper temperature (about 122 degrees), I'll seed it with some Ghirardelli dark chocolate that is in temper and stir it around until I get it to drop to about 90 degrees.  The problem is going to be keeping the chocolate at the appropriate temperature given the fact I'll be dipping cold caramel into it.  Maybe I should just pour the chocolate over the caramel.  Or maybe I should get some jumbo pecans and make tortoises.  Maybe I should get away from the computer and get busy. 

Update:  I didn't attempt chocolate tempering today.  I wasn't sure if it was one of those things annoyed by rainy days or not and didn't want to waste perfectly good chocolate.  I did make coconut caramel cupcakes.  And they're so awesome that I will need to get rid of them quickly so I don't eat them all.  Recipe and pics tomorrow.