My Review: I’ve never made real carmels before. I’ve made those microwave kind, which are obviously not real carmels, so I was excited to get this book. First off, there are tons of delicious-looking recipes. There are so many different things to try! There are lots of different options, and lots of different recipes that can be modified into even more recipes by adding a different flavoring or topping or cookie crust.
I have to admit, however, that my first go-round wasn’t so smooth. Make that first two go-rounds. I tried to follow the instructions exactly—using all the right ingredients, going to the exact temperature, etc. It was pretty obvious that I had no idea what I was doing. I’m not a novice baker/cook or anything, but I haven’t made a ton of candy in my life, so I was trying to follow the directions exactly. There really isn’t a ton of direction given, but I didn’t feel really lost, despite making such a mess of things. My first batch of carmel was a $10 worth of ingredient failure. And it took forever to make. Forever. Like an hour and a half. And I had somewhere I was supposed to be but I obviously couldn’t just leave carmels a’bubblin on the stove. And then, to add insult to injury, the carmel was so hard that I couldn’t break it (even on my granite counter tops). I took it unceremoniously to my garbage can and dropped it in there where it rested, in one very large unbroken rectangle until it was whisked away to its final resting place. Lather, rinse, repeat again. I don’t learn from my mistakes, obviously.
The second (well, third) batch, I wised up. I bought a nice candy thermometer from Williams-Sonoma and threw away my old glass one with the paper slipping that was, at that point, totally sketch. And then I called my candy making neighbor and asked her about temperatures because it was clear to me that I had cooked it for entirely too long. After a nice chat, I realized that the temperatures in this book were for carmels being made in the Midwest and I live in a totally different climate and altitude than that, so I adjusted accordingly. My next batch, after all of this, turned out great. So great, in fact, that I made another batch of another kind and it was deelish as well.
So the long and short of it:
1. The carmels, when made right, are delicious. And pretty.
2. Each batch makes a ton so it uses a lot of ingredients but also you have a ton to share and give away (and then presumably people think you’re cool and a carmel guru).
3. The book makes no mention of temperatures varying in different areas, but I am here to tell you that that made a huge difference for me, so plan accordingly.
4. Use a good candy thermometer. It’s worth the investment.
5. Plan a lot of time when you make the carmels. It takes longer than you’d think.
I’m excited to have this book in my recipe book collection. It’s a really fun addition.
My Rating: 4 stars.
For the sensitive reader: This book is all about sin in the best kind of way.