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The decadent past, present, and future of caramel

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Being the third most desired accompaniment to chocolate in the world with a steady rise in popularity since 2009, caramel is here to stay. From a classic presence in confections to a not-so-classic star ingredient in dishes like Vietnamese coated catfish, caramel has found a way to please everyone’s palette. Some cultures have even put a personal spin on traditional caramel like in the case of dulce de leche. The Maillard reaction - a chemical reaction that produces a distinct flavour - makes dulce de leche as irresistible as it is. What is it about caramel that diners can’t get enough of? An innate understanding of three simple ingredients While chefs, confectionery and dessert manufacturers in the Middle East may prefer to make caramel themselves, there is a lot that can go wrong with mass production; given its delicate ecosystem of consistency and flavour. Butter, cream, and sugar are individually agreeable ingredients but can be mercurial when working together. Good caramel relies on quality and tact. Brian Voelzing, group executive chef at Lincoln Hospitality, says “Using good butter, cream and sugar will ensure a nice final product. When making caramel, it really depends on what you are trying to achieve but you would also look for the right consistency, colour, and taste. A certain recipe may call for thick, sweet caramel while others may be creamier and more sauce-like”. Chefs’ opinions are an important pillar of the team at Clara Fields’, an Irish gourmet caramel manufacturer, research and development. Their products offer restaurant-ready gourmet caramels to save time-pressed chefs and confectioners time and resources while simultaneously reducing waste and guaranteeing the perfect consistency for their dessert. Quality is key When it comes to such a ubiquitous ingredient, how can a professional buyer distinguish between good and amateur caramel? Clara Fields have identified the need for caramel to be diverse and has curated a range of gourmet caramel sauces for various scenarios. Jurgen Ellenbeck, co-founder and managing partner at Home of Breads, says, “I have used Clara Fields’ dulce de leche for my caramel cookies. Their Millionaire Caramel is exceptional as well.

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