Caramel sugar
May 17, 2016 3:41 AM   Subscribe

Sugar can be caramelized without melting. It then substitutes for white sugar without otherwise changing recipes. SLSeriouseats
posted by daisyace (146 comments total) 176 users marked this as a favorite
 
This post would be longer, but there's so much baking to do.
posted by daisyace at 3:42 AM on May 17, 2016 [26 favorites]


Fascinating!
posted by Diablevert at 3:59 AM on May 17, 2016


This is exciting for two reasons: 1. No fucking way, where to start?! 2. I haven't read a recipe for non-salted caramel in years, I thought those days were gone forever.
posted by STFUDonnie at 4:03 AM on May 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


Mmmmmm! I have a couple of overripe bananas just begging to go into some banana bread, and now I'm thinking CARAMEL SUGAR banana bread, oh yeah.
posted by taz at 4:18 AM on May 17, 2016 [8 favorites]


Egads thats amazing. To the kitchen!!!!

Although mostly this post reminds me how much i miss the serious eats subsite: a hamburger today. So much bread-meat-bread beanplating. Twas glorious.
posted by chasles at 4:24 AM on May 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


Oh man, I left this open in a tab at home so I wouldn't forget to do it this weekend. This is seriously mind-blowing. I can't wait to make caramel-everything.
posted by uncleozzy at 4:34 AM on May 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


This is amazing, and I want to bake all of the things. Also, to try making my own marshmallows, one batch with regular sugar and another with this sugar, to see what the difference is!
posted by needlegrrl at 4:41 AM on May 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


I love that it links to a scientific paper. More recipes should show their work.
posted by odinsdream at 4:42 AM on May 17, 2016 [8 favorites]


Sweet!
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:56 AM on May 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


This must go in coffee, soon.
posted by rock swoon has no past at 5:11 AM on May 17, 2016 [14 favorites]


That's fucking ingenious. Imagine: caramel sugar meringue.
posted by E. Whitehall at 5:14 AM on May 17, 2016 [10 favorites]


I was all ho-hum until I read it. Really interesting. Now I have to decide what muffins to make this weekend. Thanks for posting.
posted by theora55 at 5:14 AM on May 17, 2016


Everything Stella Parks has been posting on Serious Eats lately has looked amazing. I'm not a big baker, but her posts have me excited to try my hand at it this summer.
posted by noneuclidean at 5:23 AM on May 17, 2016


Actual tl;dr if you just want the recipe: You can toast white sugar by sticking it in the oven at 300˚F / 150˚C / Gas Mark 2 for two or more hours. Doesn't melt, works like white sugar, tastes like caramel.

This is great, especially the actual paper, and like everyone else I'm totally going to try it the next time I have a reason to leave the oven on for a few hours. I've been interested in reading about toasting flour to get nuttier tasting pastry, but I never would have thought to try it with sugar.
posted by lucidium at 5:29 AM on May 17, 2016 [18 favorites]


Cool!

David Leibovitz posted about caramelizing white chocolate a few years ago with a similar technique. Tried it a few weeks ago and it was delicious, but this seems more versatile.
posted by cacofonie at 5:34 AM on May 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


This is the day that divides modern humanity from primitive screwheads.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:35 AM on May 17, 2016 [36 favorites]


This is going into beer this weekend. You'd think all of the chemistry that goes into cooking would be public knowledge by now, but nope, and that's awesome.
posted by lownote at 5:39 AM on May 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


Best post ever. I feel like a chicken with it's head cut off, frantically trying to decide what to make first. I'm thinking pound cake.
posted by gatorae at 5:40 AM on May 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


Goddamn, this is exciting. I finally sat down and read On Food and Cooking cover to cover about three years ago while I had a lot of time to kill between 2 and 6 AM with a fussy infant. It was a revelation, and finally convinced me to start tinkering with recipes for baking in a way that had always made me nervous. (Cooking is an art; baking is a science, and if you start making substitutions without knowing EXACTLY what you're doing, you get yesterday's AskMe.) Primary among the things I spent a lot of time tinkering with was brown-to-white sugar ratios in cookies. (Stella Parks talks about this in another linked Serious Eats article) It is MADDENING to see the texture and leavening benefits of white sugar, and the flavor and moisture benefits of brown sugar, and have to choose between them. This discovery makes me unreasonably happy, and makes me want to go try out mild caramelization in some delicately-flavored cookies that rely on creaming for leavening (citrus-y sugar cookies will probably be my first stop), or aren't leavened at all (hello shortbread my old friend), which absolutely refuse to play nicely with molasses.

I am trying to put out of my mind the possibilities around cupcakes and icing, because if I find a way to make these any better, they will find me face down in the bathtub, arteries congealed with butterfat, with a look of serene joy on my lifeless face.
posted by Mayor West at 5:43 AM on May 17, 2016 [13 favorites]


The possibilities are exciting and yes - where to start!?!?
posted by leslies at 5:48 AM on May 17, 2016


This is going into beer this weekend.

I wonder how much of a difference this would make from using more traditional caramelized / candi sugar, though, since it's essentially the same product, especially once you get it into the boil.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:50 AM on May 17, 2016


Oh my god caramel pavlova. Caramel buttercream. CARAMEL WHIPPED CREAM ON IRISH COFFEE.
posted by specialagentwebb at 5:59 AM on May 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


Personally, I am already waiting for the Internet's white-sugar backlash to begin.
posted by briank at 6:04 AM on May 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


my espressos, they will never be.... the same
posted by ouke at 6:15 AM on May 17, 2016


The non td;dr bits are pretty fascinating too - thanks for posting this!
posted by Artw at 6:16 AM on May 17, 2016


This...I can't...but...wow...I mean....

I am so excited and I'm at work and I can't go home. So I just substitute this for white sugar, yes? In anything I use white sugar for?

My brain is exploding.

What do I make first??
posted by cooker girl at 6:20 AM on May 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


This should go nicely in a brown butter cake! Maillard-velous!
posted by Glomar response at 6:25 AM on May 17, 2016 [9 favorites]


this is amazing and props to Stella Parks for doing this.

However

A lot of people have baked with sugar. A LOT. I cannot believe that someone has not discovered this in an ad hoc manner as part of a recipe somewhere......or done this particular experiment?

Heat sugar to 300°F for a number of hours, grind, then taste/use? No one has done this? Recipe history nerds, start sleuthing!
posted by lalochezia at 6:26 AM on May 17, 2016 [9 favorites]


it's a mixture of caramelan (C15H18O9), caramelane (C12H9O9), caramelen (C36H48O24), caramelene (C36H25O25), caramelin (C24H26O13),
carameline, caramelon, caramelone, caramelun, and caramelune. And sometimes caramelyn and caramelyne.
posted by NMcCoy at 6:36 AM on May 17, 2016 [9 favorites]


Everyone frantically trying to decide what to make first: why not go with that old classic: A Big Mug Of Sugar With A Spoon In It
posted by Greg Nog at 6:39 AM on May 17, 2016 [48 favorites]


I'm not going to do anything with this knowledge other than open up a booth at the farmers' market and start selling small batch artisan caramel sugar. I figure I can go at least 900% markup.
posted by komara at 6:54 AM on May 17, 2016 [61 favorites]


it's a mixture of caramelan (C15H18O9), caramelane (C12H9O9), caramelen (C36H48O24), caramelene (C36H25O25), caramelin (C24H26O13),
carameline, caramelon, caramelone, caramelun, and caramelune. And sometimes caramelyn and caramelyne.


But no Karl Malone.
posted by k5.user at 7:07 AM on May 17, 2016 [18 favorites]


This is going into beer this weekend. You'd think all of the chemistry that goes into cooking would be public knowledge by now, but nope, and that's awesome.

Interestingly, this process doesn't seem all that different from the way that the sugars in barley are caramelized to make crystal malts.
posted by Slothrup at 7:15 AM on May 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


OMFG. This is basically the best thing I've ever seen.
posted by holborne at 7:16 AM on May 17, 2016


Oh my. I mean... Oh my. There is so much... So much that needs to be done now. So very much that has to be done.

I will...

BRB
posted by Splunge at 7:22 AM on May 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


Some days I appreciate that I work from home more than others. This is one of them.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 7:37 AM on May 17, 2016 [6 favorites]


Caramel whipped cream! Ho yes! A dairy in northern Utah makes the finest whipping cream, and puts it up in shelf stable boxes. I can only imagine how good caramel whipped cream would be on lightly caramel sugared fresh sliced, and peeled Fuji apples, with a touch of cardamon, and vanilla, pan sauteed and steamed; then this on top of that dry Mexican cheese cake they sell at the local Rancho Market.
posted by Oyéah at 7:40 AM on May 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


Ah, I just realized that we don't actually have any glass baking dishes. Might need to do a small batch in a smallish Pyrex storage dish. Because I really want to make some caramel whipped cream, and maybe a caramel pound cake, for a cookout this weekend.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:42 AM on May 17, 2016


I don't bake much, but I keep simple syrup in my fridge all the time for Old Fashioneds and various other cocktails. I've made the syrup with turbinado/Demerara sugar before for variations. Next time I'm trying it with this!
posted by dnash at 7:46 AM on May 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


Scientists have a better grasp of quantum mechanics than of caramel, which is still poorly understood.

Some people need to get their priorities in order!
posted by TedW at 8:01 AM on May 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


But I wonder about the assertion that you can't melt sugar without carmelizing it. Candies made at the hard crack stage (300-310 degrees f) aren't carmelized appreciably; according to that site it takes another 10 degrees. Obviously it will eventually occur at 300 degrees based on the Serious Eats article, but I bet having an oven that's just a little off can seriously affect the results.
posted by TedW at 8:11 AM on May 17, 2016


1. Baking was already on my list of things to do this weekend, so, this is happening. I wonder how a jam or jelly would taste? It's a lot of sugar to toast, but it might just be worth it to try. Like a marmalade....Gah!

2. You absolutely know this is going to be the next THING. Within 1 year, Starbucks will have a toasted sugar latte. Mark my words.
posted by Sophie1 at 8:15 AM on May 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


oh my fucking culinary gods
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:19 AM on May 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


I put up something I called Pear Caramel, and I think this caramel sugar would make something awesome with pears, since they are so subtle and delicate in flavor. I am thinking baked bosc pears, caramel sugar, cardamon, and a light wash of some subtle thing like Frangelico.
posted by Oyéah at 8:19 AM on May 17, 2016 [8 favorites]


But I wonder about the assertion that you can't melt sugar without carmelizing it....Candies made at the hard crack stage (300-310 degrees f) aren't carmelized appreciably; according to that site it takes another 10 degrees.

Maybe it's whether you're melting pure sugar vs. sugar in water. Above 310 degrees, the site notes, you have pure sugar; below, some mixture of sugar and water.
posted by damayanti at 8:32 AM on May 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


Making this for coffee sugar and then for an aquafaba meringue. Should be done in time for dinner. Looks like sugar's back on the menu, boys!
posted by ChrisHartley at 8:44 AM on May 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


Such a fantastic phrase, almost Douglas Adams-like in its evocation of the human condition:

... and over a thousand other compounds "whose names," one scholar lamented in 1894, "science seems to have invented in a fit of despair."
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:06 AM on May 17, 2016 [15 favorites]


Gelato and sorbets will be experimented with using this one weird trick.
posted by misterpatrick at 9:10 AM on May 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


My sugar is currently going into hour three and it already tastes incredible. It's like... caramel lace or something. It's so delicate and wow. I can't wait to bake with it!
posted by headspace at 9:13 AM on May 17, 2016 [19 favorites]


k5.user: But no Karl Malone.

All Mailliard, no Mailman.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:18 AM on May 17, 2016 [10 favorites]


Thanks for reporting in headspace, I'm sitting at work living vicariously through you and the others who instantly turned their oven on.
posted by DynamiteToast at 9:20 AM on May 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


Also, this is going to make some wicked good Malted Milk Ball ice cream, you guys.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:22 AM on May 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


If anyone would like access to these scientific papers, for the purpose of the academic discussion we are currently having, please feel free to memail me with an email address I can send a PDF to and a promise not to distribute that PDF any further.

I fucking love this. SCIENCE!
posted by Blasdelb at 9:24 AM on May 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think I might make two half-batches of some super basic cookie with regular sugar and toasted sugar, and see how different they really taste. Will report back if I do!
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:53 AM on May 17, 2016 [9 favorites]


headspace; are you roasting it in a bowl/pan, or spread out on shallow raised lip sheets? Given that it's sitting in the over for hours I'd imagine the middle sections will come to temperature in a pan setup, but it would be nice to be sure. I'm invisioning doing 4 ifull cake pans of sugar all in one go before the weather gets too hot to run an oven for hours.

I've been waiting to do a cinnamon oatmeal rasin cake; I think this weekend with caramelized sugar will be its time.
posted by nobeagle at 9:55 AM on May 17, 2016


I'm at hour two, 300F, with 1 cup of sugar in a 1L pyrex bowl, stirring every 30 minutes. There is very little apparent progress. It's still white. The only change is that it's somewhat stickier than it was; with lots of granules sticking to my wooden spoon when I stir.

.... So, I actually read the entire recipe; and it calls for a 9x13 glass pan; so now I have a layer of hot sugar spread across a pyrex baking dish. We'll see how that changes things.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 10:00 AM on May 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yeah I can't imagine doing this in a bowl would work. If you were going to toast nuts would you pile them all up in a bowl?
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:02 AM on May 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


Do bring your recipes over to the MeTa.
posted by Sophie1 at 10:15 AM on May 17, 2016


I'm 1 hour in at 300F...1 cup in a 9x9 Pyrex dish. After stirring I can say maybe 10% has picked up some color.
posted by mmascolino at 10:24 AM on May 17, 2016


Do bring your recipes over to the MeTa.

Goddamn call out culture.
posted by Artw at 10:26 AM on May 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


Ah, sorry, I didn't originally notice that there's a recipe linked from about page. The recipe specifically says glass or ceramic pans; that's going to limit my throughput; I might need to hit a thrift store.
posted by nobeagle at 10:37 AM on May 17, 2016


I did mine in a 9x13 Pyrex dish, and I stirred at the first hour, and then every half-hour thereafter until I got to 3 1/2. I put in two pounds of sugar, and I did get some crusting on the sides of the dish, but not much. At 1 1/2 hours, there was some clumping in the main body of the sugar, but just on a very small scale.

It's currently cooling on my stovetop-- it's about the shade of light brown sugar and it tastes amazing. (Pic!) Roasted and sweet, with an almost creamed-coffee hint to it. I had originally planned to make chocolate chip cookies with it, but that flavor is just screaming to be made into a chocolate cake.
posted by headspace at 10:48 AM on May 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


lalochezia: "No one has done this? Recipe history nerds, start sleuthing!"

Seriously, this is bonkers. We've been cooking for sugar for centuries, although I guess we didn't have wide access to modern white sugar (i.e.: refined, granulated) until the mid- to late-1800's. How is it that this is the first we're hearing of toasting sugar?

Meanwhile, when I get home, I may try to make a simple syrup with this and see how it works in cocktails.
posted by mhum at 11:00 AM on May 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


If you want to up your baking game, you can also toast flour using the exact same method.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:02 AM on May 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


Somebody make some caramel with this stuff and tell me how it tastes.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:03 AM on May 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


So I generally use unbleached sugar at home; not turbinado and not raw sugar, just not white sugar. I wonder how it would stand up to this? When I make caramel with it, it just tastes even more caramelly and it's delicious.

Totally going to try it.
posted by cooker girl at 11:04 AM on May 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


Wait, we are at least 2526 years into using sugar as a civilization and we've JUST figured this out? Seriously? Seriously?
posted by el io at 11:05 AM on May 17, 2016


I may try to make a simple syrup with this and see how it works in cocktails.

I bet it would go well with rum.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:10 AM on May 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


This is excellent news, because though my family are all skilled bakers, we're all terrified of caramelizing sugar. Too many fires, exploding cans of condensed milk, pans of burned sugar we had to scrub out and whatnot.

To the kitchen!
posted by Soliloquy at 11:11 AM on May 17, 2016


pans of burned sugar we had to scrub out

For future reference, if you ever need it, just put some water back in the pan and put it on the stove to simmer. It'll melt the sugar again and you won't have to scrub!
posted by cooker girl at 11:13 AM on May 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


Wait, we are at least 2526 years into using sugar as a civilization and we've JUST figured this out? Seriously? Seriously?

Millenia of bakers are rolling in their grave right now at the revelation of their secret ingredient...
posted by DynamiteToast at 11:30 AM on May 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


Awesome, thank you!

I wish I'd known there was such a thing a food scientist when I was a kid.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:30 AM on May 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


it's a mixture of caramelan (C15H18O9), caramelane (C12H9O9), caramelen (C36H48O24), caramelene (C36H25O25), caramelin (C24H26O13),
carameline, caramelon, caramelone, caramelun, and caramelune. And sometimes caramelyn and caramelyne.


carameltormé, caramelifluous, caramelitenun, carameltygoodness, caramelephantine, carameltrain, caramelsdiner, caramellitusdiabeetus
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:34 PM on May 17, 2016 [6 favorites]


Caramel-deri,Caramel-dera,
Caramel-deri,
Caramel-dera-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha ...
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:38 PM on May 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


"I'm not going to do anything with this knowledge other than open up a booth at the farmers' market and start selling small batch artisan caramel sugar. I figure I can go at least 900% markup."

For the record, this is the dumbest thing I've ever said as a joke that I then found myself unable to stop thinking about. It's been six hours and I keep having visions of little glass jars and cellophane bags and hand-written tags, and three different stages of intensity for sale (alongside the 'special reserve' ones I made from a demerara starter for kicks) all named something "interesting" in a foreign language, maybe amable, intermedio, and apasionado or something equally twee.

In short I can't shake the feeling that by sitting here at work instead of going home and turning on the oven I'm missing the chance to basically print money.

Thank goodness for sleep. It is a cleansing fire that burns away the bad ideas. Tomorrow I will look at this idea and shake my head and chuckle while eating spoonful after spoonful of the delicious sugar I will have roasted in the hours in-between.
posted by komara at 12:46 PM on May 17, 2016 [49 favorites]




It's been six hours and I keep having visions of little glass jars and cellophane bags and hand-written tags, and three different stages of intensity for sale...

I bet you could totally do it. People who don't read the blog won't know what it is. Even people who know what it is might pay for the convenience of not having to run their oven for five hours.

And then you get into flavorings. Vanilla bean. Ginger. Citrus peel.

(Maybe I should stop writing this and go get a small business loan...)
posted by dnash at 12:53 PM on May 17, 2016 [6 favorites]


There's gold in them thar hills. Golden hills of caramel sugar.
posted by rory at 1:06 PM on May 17, 2016


Run off from the caramel hills is actually how the seams form for treacle mines.
posted by lucidium at 1:19 PM on May 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


Last night, did 4 pounds of sugar in a 9x13 pyrex dish for 1 hour at 300, and another 4 pounds in a 9x13 dish for 3 hours at 300.

Alas, I'd put the first one near the bottom of the oven, so a bit of the bottom melted and stuck to the dish. But the rest was faint, faint, faint gold - I didn't notice it wasn't white 'til I put a bowl of white sugar next to it, and then it was very obvious.

The three-hour sugar is sandy colored, and I made waffles out of it this morning. In that, at least, it's subtle, but very good. My partner last night made sugar cookie dough, which we haven't baked yet, but we're going to tonight. Maybe I'll make cupcakes ...
posted by you could feel the sky at 1:28 PM on May 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


komara, just selling the sugar is like telling how the trick is done, when people want to see the trick.

No one is impressed by a dude with sacks of some brown stuff, but a Craftsman with a Secret Ingredient is mysterious and interesting.

You should make a few simple things with it (cookies or cake, and maybe marshmallows), and then hand out samples to drive sales of the completed item. More work, yeah, but you can keep switching up the product so they keep chasing that flavor.
posted by wenestvedt at 1:35 PM on May 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


On one hand, I'm a tall glib tattooed bearded white dude with an approachable face and baritone voice. I'm basically built from birth to stand behind a table at a farmers' market and sell people something that I've made with my own hands. I just need to do a bit of wardrobe change to find outfits that say, "I made this for you while working in a space somewhere between a lumberjack's kitchen and a bicycle garage."

On the other hand, all I want to do is bake sugar and write labels. This idea of actually creating end products of cookies and cakes as samples sounds like baking, which I know from experience to be work, and I'm not interested in actually having to do anything.
posted by komara at 1:47 PM on May 17, 2016 [12 favorites]


Selling finished baked goods cuts into the absolutely ludicrous potential profit margin and that's the best part of the whole idea. Go with your gut, komara, take the easy route!
posted by jason_steakums at 1:56 PM on May 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


I just need to do a bit of wardrobe change to find outfits that say, "I made this for you while working in a space somewhere between a lumberjack's kitchen and a bicycle garage."

Chunky shoes, maybe even Docs, jeans, and either a tshirt or apron screenprinted with a logo that's some mix of whimsy/old-timey/veryverymacho.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:59 PM on May 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


I find that as long as the packaging is sufficiently pretty and "artisan" looking, people will buy anything, komara. Slap a ribbon around the jar and a nice label on the front, and you'll be great.

(They were selling local "artisan" kale pesto at the Farmer's Market the other day. A 6 oz. bottle of it or so was selling for $9. I make kale pesto with leftover greens, and I get like a pound of it when I make it at home. So ....I laughed.)
posted by PearlRose at 2:01 PM on May 17, 2016


Seriously get a booth at the market. You'll make bank.
posted by odinsdream at 2:03 PM on May 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


you could feel the sky: Last night, did 4 pounds of sugar in a 9x13 pyrex dish ... But the rest was faint, faint, faint gold

4 POUNDS? Sounds like my bowl problem writ large. I did 3 hours with a thin layer (1/4" or so) in a 9x13 pyrex dish and it turned a nice golden brown like in the blog post. Works great, it just needs a crapload of surface area.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 2:09 PM on May 17, 2016


I would totally buy this from a farmer's market. I don't have air conditioning and we are heading into the hot part of the year, so running my stove for 2 to 4 hours isn't a great idea, but I'd love to play around with it as a topping.
posted by tavella at 2:09 PM on May 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


Forget the farmer's market; if this follows the arc of any of the other Internet Food Crazes, some company with serious industrial processes will churn this stuff out and it'll be at Whole Foods.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 2:12 PM on May 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


Hmm. Hey, you could mix it with salt in the right proportion, and have two varieties to sell. And I wonder how it would go on popcorn...
posted by tavella at 2:15 PM on May 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


Also, if it doesn't sell at the farmer's market, you can re-purpose the cute little glass jars of it as Christmas gifts. It's not like sugar goes bad. And poking around, it seems like at least some farmer's markets will allow you to rent a space weekly for pretty modest prices, 20-30 bucks. So not an expensive experiment if you don't go nuts with supplies. Figure out what simple things it tastes good on -- crackers? popcorn? -- and put out a sample tray.
posted by tavella at 2:25 PM on May 17, 2016


still awaiting the results of someone's chocolate chip cookie experiments...
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 2:36 PM on May 17, 2016


you could feel the sky: Last night, did 4 pounds of sugar in a 9x13 pyrex dish ... But the rest was faint, faint, faint gold

4 POUNDS? Sounds like my bowl problem writ large. I did 3 hours with a thin layer (1/4" or so) in a 9x13 pyrex dish and it turned a nice golden brown like in the blog post. Works great, it just needs a crapload of surface area.


I figured my first time I would follow the recipe as written, which definitely calls for 4 lb in a 9x13 pan. I wonder if there's a typo somewhere.
posted by you could feel the sky at 2:52 PM on May 17, 2016


Now I want to try making toast dope with this…
posted by Lexica at 3:11 PM on May 17, 2016


I figured my first time I would follow the recipe as written, which definitely calls for 4 lb in a 9x13 pan. I wonder if there's a typo somewhere.

There's a note to the recipe explaining the quantity:
While this recipe can be scaled to any size, considering the time and effort involved, I find larger batches more worthwhile. It doesn't matter whether you pick up a bag of cane sugar or beet sugar, so long as it's refined.
So she's calling for four pounds just because why not make a large amount at once and store it, instead of running the oven for hours multiple times.
posted by dnash at 3:15 PM on May 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


Hang on. Vanilla sugar is already a thing. What if vanilla toasted sugar= crème brûlée sugar? Perhaps another flavor for komara's farmer's market stall.
posted by mhum at 3:21 PM on May 17, 2016 [9 favorites]


Yeah I am definitely making this for people for Christmas in twee little mason jars.
posted by skycrashesdown at 3:23 PM on May 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


Yep, that's Xmas sorted: some more of the vanilla extract my wife started last year plus a tub of caramel sugar.

I wonder what recipes we could put with them? *hums to self, heads off to Google...*
posted by wenestvedt at 3:49 PM on May 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


I saw this on Serious Eats the other day, and had been meaning to give it a try—maybe in a nice yogurt cake for a mildly flavored vehicle to taste it in. I've had a generous cup or so of sugar in a 9"x13" pyrex pan in the oven for the past couple hours, and it's starting to take on a nice light tan color and clump just a bit (like slightly damp sand). I think it smells wonderfully caramelly, but my partner claims it makes the house smell gross and burnt. Maybe her cold is keeping her from smelling the good parts of the smell? Hopefully the cake will be worth it.
posted by JiBB at 3:58 PM on May 17, 2016


And the sugar just started melting on the bottom. Guess I should have taken it out 10 minutes ago? I poured off the unmelted and mostly-not-melted sugar, which will hopefully work after a quick hit of the food processor, and should be just enough for the cake. The melted bits got scraped up into little hard candy suckers. Next time, I'll take the sugar out a bit early and not chase the deeper brown.
posted by JiBB at 4:18 PM on May 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


ChrisHartley - 'Looks like sugar's back on the menu, boys!'

YAAR!

Also, get your BBC Food recipes while you can!*

*Now available for the foreseeable future due to massive public backlash!
posted by asok at 4:22 PM on May 17, 2016


Hmm, I wonder if it might not be better to put the vanilla bean in the already-toasted sugar rather than toasting vanilla sugar? That way you don't drive off any of the vanilla flavonoids.
posted by tavella at 4:22 PM on May 17, 2016 [7 favorites]


Tavella: I'd definitely put the bean in the already-toasted sugar to get the best flavor. Man, now I want to do that, too.

In any case, I'll be making chocolate chip cookies with it tomorrow, and I will report back with the results!
posted by headspace at 5:09 PM on May 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


Oh man, I'm reading this way too late at night, because now I want to stay up and bake.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 7:54 PM on May 17, 2016


Don't forget--you can also make incredible caramel sauce by boiling a can of condensed milk. Seriously!
posted by kinnakeet at 9:45 PM on May 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


This is fantastic news. And such a well-written, energizing article- look at us, planning a gold rush!
posted by pseudostrabismus at 10:15 PM on May 17, 2016


I just want to report that making this makes the place smell amazing.
posted by E. Whitehall at 10:32 PM on May 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have just made a batch, just up to the straw yellow stage, and omg, the aroma. It really does seem to need a thinnish layer in a borosilicate glass dish to work best.

My plan is to make two small mascarpone cheesecakes, one with the white sugar and one with caramel sugar, to see if it really does bring the flavour along. The pH of normal brown sugar does weird gloopy things to cheesecake, so cross your fingers everybody...
posted by Eleven at 6:47 AM on May 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


I made three pounds of this last night, baked at about 300 for 3 hours. Came out a lovely light brown, similar to light brown sugar. Tastes nice: definitely a mild caramel flavor. I may make cookies tonight, or at least cookie batter to chill in the fridge.
posted by suelac at 8:49 AM on May 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


This would go well with my other clever market idea of making batches of gingerbread folk, drilling holes for ribbon and selling "Edible Christmas Tree Ornaments".
posted by Karmakaze at 9:55 AM on May 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


Just starting to visibly colour at the two hour mark here, this might end up in some tester shortbread later.
posted by lucidium at 10:53 AM on May 18, 2016


I can't help feeling bad for Lopez-Alt's wife, as this seems sure to launch another extended round of 20lbs of cookie comparisons.
posted by phearlez at 11:00 AM on May 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure this has been around as a chef's trick for a while. iirc, back during a brief stint at a country club ~1985 I remember a chef caramelizing dry sugar in a saute pan on a stove; different technique (lots of tossing the sugar about and keeping the pan in just the right heat zone to caramelize but not melt) but the same idea and, from the look, end result. This method certainly looks a lot easier, and with a new oven arriving on Friday, I'll definitely be trying this out.
posted by Blackanvil at 11:40 AM on May 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


I can't help feeling bad for Lopez-Alt's wife, as this seems sure to launch another extended round of 20lbs of cookie comparisons.

pobrecita
posted by DynamiteToast at 11:55 AM on May 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


Okay, I made chocolate chip cookies with this today and !!!. First of all, my daughter (who had no idea what I had done with the sugar) specifically asked if I had added caramel to the dough, so totally objective bystander could tell there was a difference.

The cookies are wonderful. They have a light, creamy caramel flavor to them-- the whole cookie tastes lighter, in my opinion. I made half a dozen without the chocolate chips and a half dozen with the chips. Since the whole point of the experiment was to try out the caramel sugar, I used only that instead of half granulated, half brown.

The half dozen without chips were amazing, almost like a dulce de leche cookie. I think they would probably be mindblowing with a tsp of almond extract.

The half dozen with chips were really good, but a bit disorienting at first. They look quite a bit paler than the traditional chocolate chip cookie, and they are lighter and creamier than a traditional as well. They're excellent, but they're definitely different! Personally, I thought the chips seemed like gilding the lily.

For both chipped and chipless, when still warm, they were almost too sweet. Once they were cooled, though, the sweetness was much more appropriate.

And I have to say, tasting the creamed butter and sugar before adding any other ingredients? This sugar is going to SLAY in frostings. I think a chocolate cake with the toasted sugar frosting would basically leave no survivors.

Grown Ass Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 C toasted sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 pinches ground cardamon
2 pinches ground white pepper
2 large eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/4 C all purpose flour
1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream butter and sugar until pale and well-blended. Add vanilla, cardamom and pepper, mix well. Add eggs, mix well. Add salt and baking soda, mix well. Add flour 1/2 cup at a time and mix gently until incorporated. Finally, fold in 1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Spoon 3/4 oz blobs (#40 cookie scoop, or about a tablespoon) onto a greased cookie sheet or silpat. Set timer for 9 - 12 minutes, and put cookies on middle rack. At halfway through your cooking time, turn cookies. Check at 9 minutes. If the edges are starting to brown slightly, they are done. (These cookies will be paler overall than your standard chocolate chip cookie.)

If not, bake an additional 1 minute at a time. (Of course, if you like dark and crispy cookies, go straight for the 12 minutes.) Allow to sit on pan for a minute or two, then transfer cookies to a cooling rack.
posted by headspace at 1:05 PM on May 18, 2016 [50 favorites]


<3
posted by aniola at 7:43 PM on May 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


We're on hour 4 of our first batch. Smells like the fair.
posted by odinsdream at 7:56 PM on May 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


My mother used to make a burnt sugar frosting for spice cake that I dearly loved. I wonder if frosting made with this would be similar tasting?
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 9:45 PM on May 18, 2016


The cheesecakes turned out pretty well! The caramel sugar had no unusual effects on the consistency at all. The flavour was noticeable, my partner noticed the difference despite not being one for subtlety, but was disappointingly mild.

Maybe mascarpone is too too strong a flavour for this, or maybe I just need to be braver and toast the sugar for longer?
posted by Eleven at 12:17 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


I made this today and was pretty disappointed. It smelled great, and turned nice and brown. I took it out after three hours and tasted it once it had cooled. To me it doesn't taste any different from raw/demerara sugar. I guess I have broken taste buds.
posted by lollusc at 1:55 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


What, no-one has mentioned Lucky Strike? ("it's toasted"). Don Draper must have moved on to the sugar account.
posted by superfish at 4:17 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


I had the same experience as lollusc, but I only cooked it for two hours. It did smell caramely when I first took it out of the oven. That reminds me.

THERE"S sugar-soaked strawberries in the fridge!!!
posted by aniola at 9:26 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Here are some costs y'all would want to consider when selling this at a 900% markup:

Money
- similarly-sized pretty jars (doing a bottle deposit arrangement? add cleaning)
- bulk organic, fair-trade sugar
- labels
- ribbons
- commercial kitchen space, depending on regulations where you live
- farmer's market vendor fees

Time
- labeling
- ribboning
- up to 6 hours in the kitchen or rented commercial kitchen space
- storage
- transportation to/from market if it's not nearby
- vending at the farmer's market

Want to sell it in stores? More money and time:
- creating a brand and website
- insurance
- bank account
- registering your business
- distribution
posted by aniola at 10:05 AM on May 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


I just finished making this, and like lollusc, it is very nice and brown and smelled great will baking, but tastes exactly the same as white sugar. I am so sorry to say.
posted by nanook at 11:43 AM on May 19, 2016


I'm doing it now. 2 cups in a metal baking sheet, since I had no glass. After an hour it got very soft on the bottom, and when I stirred it there were a couple patches where it seemed melted. Smells good, tastes a BIT different but not crazy different. We shall see.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:06 PM on May 19, 2016


welp

guess I better try this again at lower heat than 300F
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:21 PM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Puddle of sugar? That looks delicious. Y'know, since it hardens into hard candy, I might make some intentionally, pour it into molds, and put assorted things in the center. Cocoa beans, chocolate chips, blueberries, raisins, nuts....
posted by aniola at 12:28 PM on May 19, 2016


Yeah... got pretty deep golden, but still just tasted like sugar. But I don't like sweet that much, so maybe the sweet was still overwhelming? Or maybe I need to get a better color.

I used a sheet pan with parchment, mixing well on the hour (hi, I'm chronically incapable of just following the recipe!). Everything was dandy until I messed with the temperature and got some melty bits. Those are the only parts that taste anything of caramel though.
posted by zennie at 12:32 PM on May 19, 2016


After my batch of sugar cooled, initially, I didn't think it tasted like anything either. But when I put it in an airtight container overnight, and then opened it the next day to make the cookies, the caramel definitely wafted out. I think having it in the oven for so many hours dulls you to the smell/flavor of it on the day of toasting.
posted by headspace at 12:46 PM on May 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


Mine is in the oven - am thinking I will use it in meringues tomorrow, if the rain holds off.
posted by Mchelly at 12:55 PM on May 19, 2016


Okay - made about 3 lbs, gave it 3.5 hours. It came out a slightly beige-ish white color, not the rich light brown in the picture. And it doesn't seem to need food processing - it's still pretty granular (some clumping but breaks apart when you nudge it with a fork). To me it definitely smells and tastes (faintly) like caramel, but my husband didn't notice any taste difference. Will report back after baking.
posted by Mchelly at 5:13 PM on May 19, 2016


I ground it up a minute ago. With the greater surface area I can now get that cotton candy flavor, so that's cool!
posted by zennie at 6:28 PM on May 19, 2016


"Here are some costs y'all would want to consider when selling this at a 900% markup:"

oh hey don't worry about me. As I said:

"Thank goodness for sleep. It is a cleansing fire that burns away the bad ideas. Tomorrow I will look at this idea and shake my head and chuckle"

and that's pretty much exactly how it went down.
posted by komara at 8:01 PM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


I wasn't worried about anyone in particular. I do the exact same thing to the point where I carry this list around in my head so that I can whip it out any time I have a bright idea for a business. That way I can skip right to the "do I want to devote the next X months/years of my life to this awesome thing?" part.
posted by aniola at 8:12 PM on May 19, 2016


I took one look at showbiz_liz's picture and put a bunch of flavored sugar in candy molds in the oven. And out came hard candy. Who needs a candy thermometer! That's what the oven is for! This is very exciting news and maybe I shouldn't have discovered it.
posted by aniola at 10:42 PM on May 19, 2016 [9 favorites]


This would make fantastic marshmallows.
posted by annsunny at 11:22 AM on May 20, 2016


Mistakes were made, I didn't pour the sugar out of the hot glass dish and a bunch of it melted and stuck to the dish. I do still have about a cup and a half of toasted sugar that's a lovely light golden color. The taste isn't too different to me, but it's definitely richer and more nuanced than plain sugar. I put it in an airtight container with half a vanilla bean, so we'll see what it's like tomorrow.
posted by yasaman at 6:48 PM on May 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


I was trying to figure out what this reminded me of and I think I got it - the Indian sweet soan papdi which is made by stir frying sugar in a wok. It tastes like caramelized cotton candy - soft in some places and brittle in others with a wonderful complex rich flavor going on. I bet it's the same chemistry. The best soan papdi is unfortunately not found in the elaborately packed gift boxes but in street vendor carts, hot and fragrant with the most mouthwatering caramelized aroma. Damn, I miss it.
posted by peacheater at 11:57 PM on May 20, 2016 [5 favorites]


So what will happen if you caramelized the sugar slowly, to get this stuff we're all very excited about, and THEN used it to make creme brûlée or other caramel product. Would it be caramel squared?!?

Second, while I know we are all wondering why no one has thought of this before....haven't we though? In any case where we sprinkle sugar on top of apple pie or on cookies? The sugar in those cases definitely is enhanced and caramelization with liquéfaction seems like a good candidate for why.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 8:51 PM on May 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


I wonder how much it costs to have the oven on for 5-6 hours....
posted by aniola at 7:11 PM on May 22, 2016


Anyone who does any kind of roasting or oven-based slow cooking (any fellow fans of the Russ Parsons oven-cooked beans method?) is probably already doing things that involve having the oven on for hours, so this doesn't seem unreasonable. My own local utility's figures indicate that it's about $0.32 an hour for me. So, $1.60-$1.92 of power on top of the cost of ingredients. Factored by time, energy, conflicting demands, etc. of course.
posted by Lexica at 9:05 PM on May 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


I've just come across a recipe which recommends toasting salt, until it's "a brownish color". Now I skipped that because I didn't believe salt would be reactive in any way at kitchen temperatures, but has anyone else ever heard of that as a step?
posted by lucidium at 12:07 PM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Idly wondering if i could do this in a slow cooker. Gotta research temps!
posted by annsunny at 12:27 PM on May 23, 2016


No, slow cookers generally reach temperatures that are lower than boiling, so they are too cool for caramelization.
posted by artistic verisimilitude at 1:27 PM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


oh emm gee I just realized we can use our new Very Serious Dehydrator for this!
posted by aniola at 5:34 PM on June 13, 2016


nevermind, looks like annsunny & artistic verisimilitude already covered this ground
posted by aniola at 5:35 PM on June 13, 2016


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