Friday, 20 December 2013

A Different Caramel Syrup

A different caramel syrup

Not all caramel syrups are created equal.  I used to think that just melting the candies would do the trick.  But even the little cellophaned cubes of caramel have disappointed as of late, their formulas recently changed to synthetic substances, sickly and tedious.

This caramel syrup is luscious  and just a little different.  The secret’s in the ginger, jaggery and cinnamon.  Although the syrup doesn’t have strong spice flavours, merely hinted at, it is buttery rich and sweet. 

Can you see the ginger scrapes here?
3 scrapes of ginger
2 small pieces cassia or ½ piece of cinnamon
1 cup white sugar
1 cup jaggery
2 tablespoons water, extra water
1 cup butter, cut up
1 cup heavy cream  

Use a potato peeler to get three scrapes of ginger, about an inch and a half long, each.  Use just the yellow part of the ginger, not the peel.  Place the ginger scrapes along with the cassia or cinnamon into a large heavy pot.  Add the sugar and jaggery, and put heat on to medium.  Making caramel syrup is a tricky operation, so be prepared to stay near the stove, stirring and keeping a good eye.  Should this stuff burn, or worse yet, spill on you, it’s ambulance time.  Be careful.

When sugar is melted and sticky, remove the cooked  spices.
Using a heat proof whisk, stir the sugars to help them to melt.  The colour will shift as it melts.  Because the jaggery is already dark, you can’t keep an eye for colour changing, so add two tablespoons of water now, to be sure the sugars don’t burn, which would result in a bitter taste. 

Once the sugars are completely melted, and starting to get sticky, remove the ginger and cinnamon.  Set them aside for later.  (I'll julienne the ginger and use it as an edible decoration.)

Stir the melted sugar, being sure nothing is clumping up on the bottom of the pot.  Also keep a basting brush in extra water, and give the insides of the pot the once over every so often.  This is to keep the syrup from getting crystals and also to prevent the sugar from burning.  Once it has boiled and frothed for about three minutes, add the butter.  Sometimes it will madly froth and rise up, so keep a very close eye.  Mine didn’t, and I was lucky to have time to take a picture. 

I used regular butter with salt.  No extra salt needed!
Continue to cook, stirring often, brushing the insides of the pot with a few drops of water.  After about ten minutes, as the sugar is getting quite frothy and sticky, slowly add the cream, whisking.  Continue to cook to desired consistency.  I intend this syrup to dress gingerbread cake and ice-cream, so I want it thin enough to use lots to moisten the gingerbread.  Mine's about the consistency of good maple syrup. 

Remove from heat and let cool somewhat.  Have clean glass jars ready.  Put a metal spoon in each,  just to be sure the heat of the caramel doesn’t crack the jar.  Pour in, let cool, and close the jars. 

Watch this stuff carefully, it's more dangerous than lava!

This gorgeous stuff will grace tomorrow’s gingerbread cake, intended for Auntie Janet’s pre-Christmas party, along with some vanilla ice-cream.  I’ll warm the larger jar in the microwave for just a minute, and use that.  The other jar will get a ribbon and be one of Beautiful Granddaughter’s Christmas presents, provided that I don’t get into it first.

Stay tuned for the gingerbread cake, and the final pics.  

Caramel Syrup made with jaggery, ginger and cinnamon
I may lose control and make a few more jars of this elixir...

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