Caramel is basically made with sugar, cream and butter. The key to make the caramel with the right consistency is to control the temperatures. There are two key temperatures for this process: (1) When melting the sugar, allow the sugar to melt completely, and then continue to heat it until it reaches 310 F. (2) After adding cream, the temperature should drop to around 210 F. Let the moisture to bubbles out, and continue to cook until it reaches 340-345 F., this is the soft candy stage.
2 cups of cane sugar;
1 cup of light corn syrup;
1.5 cups of heavy cream;
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract;
1/2 cup of butter, cut into small cubes;
1/4 teaspoon of salt;
1 cup roasted pine nuts, or other nuts of your choice.
Step1: Combine sugar and syrup, cook on medium heat until sugar melt. This process can take over 10 minutes. Check the temperature frequently with the digital infrared thermometer until it registers 310F. Reduce the heat to low.
[Did you know? The temperature of the mixture will not rise until all the sugar crystal is melted. This is because the sugar is going through a phase change-from solid to liquid. This process takes heat, therefore the heat inputted will go to melting the sugar crystals instead of raising the temperature of the mixture.]
Step2: Heat the cream with vanilla extract in the microwave until hot (not boiling), gradually add the cream to the molten syrup. Stir (careful keeping the bubbling down, remove from heat if necessary). This will reduce the temperature to around 210F. Keep cooking the mixture until most moisture is boiled out. Once that happens, the temperature will tart to rise again. Keep cooking until the temperature reaches 240-245F.
Step3: Remove the mixture from the heat. Add the butter cubes, salt and nuts, stir to distribute them evenly in the mixture. Pour the mixture in a flat baking sheet. Allow to cool, then cut into small pieces. Wrap with wax paper. Enjoy!