Well, I besmirched the good name of Martha Stewart when funwithfood suggested her caramel apple recipe. I insisted that since I could make caramel, the only thing martha provided me was a reliable temp to take the mixture to, thereby guaranteeing (roughly) that you would achieve an end product that was neither too runny, nor too brittle, but, in the words of a little bear (or was it a piggie?), just right.
hah! karmic revenge was reaked upon me on Friday night when I decided to test this theory. I didn't have much time (as is the case with all of my cooking these days), so I pulled out the recipe I created the last time I made caramel. It was woefully short on details (no temp to bring hot liquid to, just a rough description of color). I still figure I can do it, and get going.
Put roughly 2cups sugar in pan with roughly 1/2 cup water, bring to boil, boil off water and watch it bubble along. I start to worry, what if the temp isn't right? I leave pot on stove (not too hot a temp, bubbling along), go grab McGee, search for reference on temp to make caramel. Discover there is some variation in the use of the word caramel. Curse. Stick in thermometer. It's already above 240 (Martha's recommended temp). But it doesn't look dark enough. But 240 seems to be the temp McGee is suggesting. Or not? Curse some more. It goes up to roughly 285. I remember to add a Tb or so of corn syrup to try to prevent crystallization. Doesn't look dark enough, but I'm struggling.
Hell, I decide it's roughly $1 worth of ingredients (although this is my only shot, as I'm out of sugar), and I might as well move forward. I put in roughly 1/2 cup heated cream plus 2-3Tb butter (also heated). It bubbles furiously as I stir. It looks, well, uninspiring. I add some vanilla and a bit of lemon juice. It doesn't look any more inspired than before, and i begin to worry about crystallization.
I had taken a bit of advice from Martha and had a waiting bain marie so that I could keep caramel at a decent temp. Pot is in bain marie. I decide to try dunking an apple. The photo below is the one and only attempt at applying caramel to an apple. (Remember how I said I don't have much time? I neglected to buy sticks to put in apples for dipping, so was relying on my supply of forks). You'll note, it's a bit weak on the caramelized sugar end of things. Decent (not great) thickness (smidge too runny, definitely not to brittle). Minimal flavor. Even SO (who LOVES sweets) notes that it is weak on caramel flavor. Sigh.
The linked photo was my thought that maybe I could salvage the effort into caramels. (NB: it didn't work--crystallized sugar resulted.)
Perhaps I need to reconsider my friend, Martha? Problem is, I don't like recipes that are too loaded upon corn syrup, which is the way I perceive hers. All advice appreciated.