Sweet Talk About Caramel
What’s not to like about it?
In its essence, caramel is nothing more than cooked sugar, delicious cooked sugar. When you “ brown” meats, or sear scallops, you are seeing caramelization, the same process and the same tasty result.
Caramel has enjoyed a surge in popularity in recent years. It has always been an ice cream sundae staple, but caramel ice cream became a real hit when Haagen Daz introduced it to court the Latino population, not anticipating that it would become wildly successful throughout all market segments.
Available anywhere sugar is found, caramel is particularly important in the cuisines of Latin America, particularly in Argentina, where it is used from morning until night, from being drizzled on toast to being an important ingredient at dessert time.
Dulce de Leche, as it is known in Spanish, is caramel sauce, made simply by slow cooking sweetened condensed milk. It’s easy to make at home, but so unnecessary when plenty of excellent jars are available at the supermarket. http://www.eaglebrand.com/recipes/homemade-caramel-sauce-4002
The favorite in myMEGusta’s pantry is Smuckers Salted Caramel. They acquired the brand from Borden when that company was broken up several years ago. (The Elmer’s Glue went elsewhere.)
Another kind of caramel sauce, found in Latino markets for the most part, is cajeta, caramel sauce made of goats milk (not so easy to DIY).
A great use of caramelized sugar is in the Spanish/Latino flan, virtually identical to the French Creme Caramel.
Classically made, these desserts start with caramelized sugar (not sauce) which is poured into the bottom of a cooking dish, which is then filled with egg custard and baked, later inverted.
It is amusing that the manufacturers of caramel sauce (Nestle) and the sweetened condensed milks promote recipes that use their sauces in lieu of the simply caramelized sugar. And Kraft flogs recipes for flan that include their cream cheese brand. We are sure that these are tasty dishes, but they’re just not very authentic.
If you want a super easy, gluten free dessert for guests, or to bring to a party (and assemble in minutes once you get there), myMEGusta suggests simply cutting up some bananas, drizzling with caramel sauce, and sprinkling on toasted coconut (one or more layers, depending on quantity).