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Old 09-10-2019, 09:51 AM
mhendo is offline
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Chewy caramels without corn syrup?


Wasn't sure whether to put this here, or in GQ.

A couple of weeks ago, I made myself some caramel. It was a pretty basic recipe: sugar, water, heavy cream, and some butter. Turned out great, with excellent flavor and nice consistency. I mainly poured it over ice cream.

I thought I'd like to make some caramels, as in candy things to chew, but every single recipe I can find for chewing caramels on the internet requires corn syrup. Is that really necessary to make a chewy caramel, or is there another way to do it? Surely it was possible to make caramels before the corn industry with its massive subsidies dominated American agriculture?
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Old 09-10-2019, 10:05 AM
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I'm no expert but I assume the the corn syrup will make it easier to get the caramel to a hard ball stage and allow it to set up like candy w/o burning the sugar. Old chefs/cooks probably made a simple sugar syrup. This is a WAG.
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Old 09-10-2019, 10:25 AM
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Corn syrup helps to prevent liquid sugars from crystallizing, which is very helpful in certain candies (including caramel) where crystallization is undesirable. If you don't want to use corn syrup, you can try substituting a small amount of lemon juice or cream of tartar, but when you go off-recipe, be prepared to have to experiment a few times to get it right.
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Old 09-10-2019, 04:59 PM
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You can probably do it without corn syrup, which is mainly there to help prevent crystallization. The most important thing will just be to get the right temp.

Don't stir too much or too enthusiastically. Sugar crystals will happily try to form on the sides of whatever cooking vessel you're using... the old school way to prevent this is to periodically use a wet pastry brush on the sides of the pot to dissolve any baby sugar crystals.
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Old 09-10-2019, 08:34 PM
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Thanks for the advice, folks.

I'm not necessarily averse to using corn syrup, but it just struck me as odd that it seems to be a required ingredient. I might give them a go without the syrup, and if that's no good, I'll cave and use it.
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Old 09-10-2019, 09:50 PM
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I've no clue if this will work or not if you're concerned about creating the proper chewy texture but you might want to experiment with using either molasses or real maple syrup. The results probably will be a little off but might be tasty.
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Old 09-11-2019, 08:14 AM
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You can also use inverted sugar which would inhibit crystals forming. There's not a lot of difference between inverted sugar and high fructose corn syrup. They're both roughly equal mixtures of fructose and glucose, but if you use inverted sugar you can still proudly say it's made without corn syrup. Sucrose is a longer sugar chain and that's what causes the crystals to form so anything that gets fructose or glucose into your caramels will help.
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