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myMEGusta

Named for things that please me (“me gusta” in Spanish) and rhymes with balabusta (Yiddish for “good homemaker”).

Sweet Talk About Caramel

Caramel!

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.

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream

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

Home made caramel

Home Made Caramel

Salted Caramel

Salted Caramel

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.

Flan

Flan

Creme Caramel Renversee

Creme Caramel Renversee

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.

dulce de leche magnoliaIf 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).

Bananas, Caramel, Toasted Coconut

Bananas, Caramel, Toasted Coconut

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2 thoughts on “Sweet Talk About Caramel

  1. Wonderful story again about food, cooking and eating. The Austrians make a torte named after an Hungarian pastry chef. The Dobos torte consists of thin sponge cake layers put together with rich butter cream. The top layer is glazed with caramel. The top layer was put on a marble slab and liquid caramel was poured over. Then the layer had to be portioned quickly before the caramel hardened. A heavy slightly oiled kitchen knife was used. Speed was of essence to get it done, a challenge for any apprentice!

  2. Lula Kopper on said:

    Haagen Daz is currently on sale at my local Stop & Shop. I picked up a pint of Dulce de Leche. Won’t last long in my freezer!

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