If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you’ll love today’s food holiday. April 5 is National Caramel Day!
It’s also National Raisin & Spice Bar Day. Caramel appealed to us more. So, caramel it is.
I was surprised to learn that caramel is nothing more than sugar that has been heated slowly to 340F. As the sugar heats, the molecules break down and transform into a sticky brown liquid. This process is known as caramelization, and results in the familiar, decadent treat we love atop an ice cream sundae or wrapped around an apple. I have caramelized onions many times, but never made the connection. This food challenge is teaching us a lot! I ought to try out for Jeopardy next year and pray for a “food & drink” category.
Caramel is an American discovery. In the 17th century, our forefathers (and foremothers) were making hard candies out of caramelized sugar and water. By 1850, they had discovered that adding milk and other fats to the mixture resulted in a soft, chewy, and sticky concoction. In Pennsylvania, Milton Hershey founded the Lancaster Caramel Company, with the intention of manufacturing caramel candy covered in chocolate. He became so enamored with chocolate that he ended up selling the caramel business and using the profit to start a chocolate company instead. Foolish move, Hershey! Did you really believe your name could become synonymous with chocolate?
Err…right. Guess it was a good investment after all.
Nevertheless, caramel also became popular worldwide, so hopefully the guy who bought the caramel company profited, too. I’m all about sharing the wealth!
We are embarking upon another trip to the Emerald City this afternoon. (Seattle, not Oz). And leaving early, to boot. We don’t have a lot of time to mess with some fancy caramel preparation – kind of hard to cook when you’re in the car driving for three hours – so we celebrated by ordering caramel-flavored coffee drinks. I stopped by Dutch Bros. for a Caramelizer, a blend of triple-bean espresso, mocha, and caramel. I’m not a big fan of overly sweet coffee, but this was pretty good.
Have a great weekend! We’ll be up in Seattle until Sunday, but fortunately, our weekend food challenges are pretty simple and shouldn’t give us any trouble. Tomorrow’s, in fact, will provide a strange sense of deja vu.
- Celebrating yummy, syrupy, sticky caramel. (sciencelens.wordpress.com)