I'm currently doing a SNAP challenge wherein we eat on a limited budget ($84 for two people) for a week. The process is interesting. Anyway I wanted to make pancakes this morning and realize we had no syrup. I mean I did have a bottle of real maple syrup in the fridge that I wasn't allowed to use, but I had bought a small bag of sugar just in case. So I thought, why not make a caramel sauce and cut up a banana for our pancakes.
Got the sugar nice and caramelized, and added canola and whole milk instead of butter and cream, and the sauce went super grainy. I took an immersion blender to it, and really reduced the graininess, to the point that my boyfriend didn't notice, but I knew it wasn't as smooth as it should be. So I thought about it, and I realized normally when I add the butter it melts at a certain pace and as I whisk emulsifies then I add the milk while the canola never seems to incorporate.
So then I tried again. This time I said no to canola and melted some cream cheese into the milk hoping to up the fat content and benefit from the guar and xantham gum in the cream cheese -although I realize those are small amounts. Still went grainy.
Now I'm willing to keep experimenting, but I'm getting yelled at for using up ingredients when we're supposed to be careful. I'm pretty sure the addition of corn syrup would solve the the graininess, but I'm not allowed it for the challenge. So I'm wondering, should I heat up the milk, let the sugar cool more, maybe melt the cream cheese in the liquid sugar then add the milk? Ideally I'd like a sauce that was just sugar and whole milk. I was reading through On Food and Cooking for any ideas and while a lot of time was spent discussing discussing the properties of sugar as it "melts" and that the the browning milk solids also contribute to flavor, but not how the dairy behaves when it hits the hot sugar.