Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Caramel


I've decided there is no better tasting flavor in the world than that of caramel. I think some people mistake the flavor of caramel as simply caramelized sugar--assuming that the caramel itself has no particular flavoring other than being "sweet." I know from experience that this isn't true. Libby (my girlfriend) and I have caramelized sugar in a pot recently in order to emulate those delicious Girl Scout cookies, Samoas; and while the melty outcome was delicious, it was completely lacking that delicious salty, syrupy, creamy caramel taste that is so sought after. We agreed it more so resembled toffee, because it had that fancy bitterness that so many sweet toothed aristocrats seem to be fond of.

We're not sure what the recipe was missing, but next time we attempt the Samoa challenge we're going to skip the middle step and simply melt down some pre-constructed caramel cubes. It may seem like a failure, but I still have no idea where to acquire that indescribable flavor. Is it some sort of spice or herbal ingredient? Like butterscotch or marmalade? Everyone knows the caramel taste, but few people can pinpoint exactly what it is.

Maybe I should look this up, the ingredients to caramel, I mean. But that could take some of the magic out of it. Have you ever shied away from knowledge because you were afraid of the information? Like, afraid that the information would shatter your childlike, perception of how strange things work? Sometimes your imagination should do the majority of the work.

Caramel is gold for imagination, in that case. I like to pretend it comes from some beautiful plant root, like root beer. Root beer also has an unmistakable, yet indescribable taste; but I know where that comes from! Is there a caramel flower? I bet it would be gorgeous. And when the bees pollinate it, a little cube pops out of the stamen. That's absurd, but fantastic. Also how do you make it chewy? Gum, rubber, all that stuff? Our caramel hardened into the consistency of a sucker, or a hard candy. I'm getting ahead of myself. I'll just enjoy caramel for what its worth and leave the recipe to the factories. We'll melt the aftermath and call it good.

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