Always be careful and take extra precautions when working with hot sugar. Make sure your kitchen is free from clutter, that you can get your pan from the stovetop to a basin of cold water easily (to stop cooking), and do not leave the sugar unattended. DO NOT touch hot sugar. Make your own caramel for an extra layer of flavor in your bakes and desserts, to dip nuts into, for delicious pralines, and for pretty spun sugar.
6 tbsp water
Silpat mat or nonstick baking paper
Mug or cup
1 Get organized. Have your Silpat mat laid out in an oven tray on the worktop and your mug with water and pastry brush next to the stove ready to use.
2 Stir the sugar and water together in a deep heavy-bottom saucepan on medium heat. Once the sugar is dissolved, stop stirring. You will see crystals trying to form around the outside edge of the pan, so use the pastry brush dipped in water to get rid of any crystals. This will give you a clear caramel.
3 Increase the heat and bring the syrup up to a boil until the sugar turns golden brown. Caramel can burn very easily, so watch it carefully.
4 When the caramel is done, carefully plunge the base of the pan into a sink full of cold water for 1 minute. This stops the caramel from cooking further and getting too brown.
5 Pour the caramel onto the Silpat mat and let it spread out and cool or drizzle in patterns to use as dessert decorations. Do not touch until fully cooled. Once cool, you can break into shards or bash in a bag with a rolling pin to create a praline powder and flecks to flavor cream and buttercream or add as decorations to tarts, cakes, and more.
Note: If you wish to make nut pralines, add toasted almonds, pecans, or hazelnuts a minute or two before the caramel has finished cooking, then pour onto a prepared Silpat mat in an oven tray, leave to fully cool, then break into shards or grind into a delicious topping.