National Caramel Day
Caramel lovers celebrate their favorite treat on National Caramel Day each year. Observed on April 5th, this versatile confection adds delicious, creamy flavor to desserts, pastries, and candies.
Caramels are made by adding milk and fat to a sugary syrup that has been heated and continuously stirred until it reaches a light brown color. As early as the seventeenth century, American women used caramelized sugar and water to make candies. Since it was an economical candy to produce, it found its way into many recipes. Around the year 1850, someone discovered that adding milk and a fat product to the cooked sugar mixture resulted in a soft, chewy candy. It should be no surprise how quickly soft caramel became popular.
Bakers and pastry chefs use caramel to make a variety of desserts either as a featured ingredient, flavoring, or topping. Depending on the consistency, it can be used as a syrup or as the glue holding together nuts and popcorn. In a more pliant form, the candy makes great caramel apples. Cooked to a higher temperature, the caramel can become brittle and is perfect for just that kind of candy making.
The longer caramel cooks, it takes on a deeper color and a darker flavor until the sugar becomes bitter and is no longer palatable.