If your caramel is too soft, your sauce might be too runny. Or, your caramel pudding might not set. Either way, it’s disastrous.
But fortunately, there are some efficient techniques to solve this problem!
So, how to fix caramel that is too soft?
Firstly, you can add an acidic liquid to make the caramel firmer. You can also add water and heat. Re-melting and starting fresh is a common technique used by many. Finally, try wrapping the caramel with cellophane paper.
If you’re confused as to how the above-mentioned methods work, we got your back. We’ve broken these down in detail. Even categorized them from the easiest to the hardest. So, read on to find them out!
Why is My Caramel Soft?
Well, your caramel might turn out to be too soft for any kind of mistake. You might make the blunder of not letting your sugar dissolve. Or, you might not have let it break down.
Your caramel might not get adequate heat or water either. All of these will have the common outcome of making your caramel too soft.
But to add peace to your mind, let us tell you that it’s easy to mess up. That is, caramel gets soft pretty easily. Trying to use caramel candy as a substitute for caramel extract? One mistake and the caramel might turn too soft.
Thankfully, there are many ways you can fix this problem. Here, we are giving you a quick chart on which method to use for which error-
|Blunder||Method to Use||Level of Difficulty|
|Timing Error||Adding Acidic Components||Very Easy|
|Sugar did not break down, lack of heat or the sugar didn’t dissolve properly.||Wrapping Cellophane paper around the Caramel||Easy|
|Lack of Heat||Adding Water and Heat||Difficult|
|Sugar is not dissolved properly||Re-melting Caramel||Difficult|
Method 1 of 4: Adding Lemon Juice
This method is for when you’ve made an error in the timing. Okay, so let’s go back to the basics at first.
So, when you cook the sugar, there are different stages of cooking. And of course, to cook it, you need to heat up the caramel.
The longer you heat the caramel, the more breakdown of sugar will occur. And if your sugar breaks down more, your caramel will be firmer.
As you heat the caramel, the heating process will evaporate the water used. Then, it’ll break the sugar into the components of fructose and glucose.
And how do you break down the sugar? By adding liquids with an acidic pH such as citric acid. This fastens the process of breaking down sugar. Thus you will achieve a firm caramel within the cooking time.
You can use lemon and squeeze it into the caramel while cooking. If you don’t have a lemon, it’s completely fine! There are plenty of alternatives that will serve the same purpose. They are-
|Lime Juice||1 Lime||2-3, approximately the same pH as lemon juice, so the quantity is the same.|
|Orange Juice||1 Orange||3-4, greater pH than lemon juice, so a higher quantity of orange juice is needed.|
|Vinegar||¼ tsp||2.5, low pH, so a small quantity is needed|
|Citric Acid||2 tsp||3-6, high pH, so 2 tsp is needed|
|Lemon Extract||1-2 drops||2-3, low pH like lemon juice, so a small quantity is needed|
|Tartar Cream||½ tsp||5, high pH, so this quantity is needed|
Use any of the above-mentioned items as a replacement for lemon juice. You can either use them in a 1-to-1 ratio or the quantity mentioned above.
We would suggest that you cook the caramel at a temperature of at least 350 F at first. Then, add the acidic component and cook the caramel again at, at least 255 F.
This is the simplest solution to your issue of time management. So you’re good to go!
Method 2 of 4: Wrapping The Caramel in Cellophane
No matter what kind of blunder you make, there is actually a very smart technique to solve it. And that is wrapping cellophane paper around caramel.
This helps because a cellophane paper has low permeability to air, moisture, oil, etc. This helps to fix the shape of caramel. Hence, your caramel to set to a firmer form. Super easy, huh?
Just wrap the paper around it after it has cooled. And you’re done!
Method 3 of 4: Adding Water and Heat
The reason why caramels become too soft is because of the temperature regulation. Without an adequately high temperature., the caramel will not get firm.
So, what do you need to do to solve this problem? If your caramel turns out to be too soft, place it back into a saucepan. Pour 2 tablespoons of water and heat the solution to 244 F.
Keep note to not add excess water. If you add too much water, it’ll only increase the cooking time. That would be nothing but a waste of time, right?
So, only increase the quantity of water added for a greater quantity of caramel.
How can you make sure that you’ve added a proper quantity of water? You can do that by checking the consistency of your sugar and water mixture. If the mixture is thin and smooth, you’re doing great!
Now, let’s discuss the amount of heat needed to make your caramel firmer. As we’ve said before, you can fix this issue by re-heating the caramel to a temperature of 244 F.
But the question is, how exactly can you properly measure the temperature? An accurate temperature is the key to getting the perfect consistency of your caramel. So, you can do this by two methods-
Using a Candy Thermometer
A candy thermometer is an extremely useful tool when it comes to baking purposes. Simply put the candy thermometer in the mixture while cooking, to know the temperature.
Just make sure you calibrate your candy thermometer first. For this, boil a bowl of water and then put the thermometer in it. After some time, if the temperature reading is 100 degrees Celsius/ 212 F, then the reading is correct. Otherwise, calibrate it accordingly.
As we’ve mentioned before, there are a variety of brands of candy thermometers available. Some brands have more accuracy than others. We are providing a list of the best-branded candy thermometers below-
- Lavatools PT12 Javelin Digital Instant Read Meat Thermometer for Kitchen, Food Cooking
- GDEALER DT09 Waterproof Digital Instant Read Meat Thermometer
- ThermoPro TP03 Digital Instant Read Meat Thermometer Kitchen Cooking Food Candy Thermometer
You should be able to easily find any of these brands in your local grocery stores.
Using Cold Water Test
As we’ve already told you before, temperature regulation is essential while preparing caramel. But in case you don’t have a candy thermometer with you, we got your back.
There’s another technique you can use to get an idea of the temperature. This is known as the ‘Cold Water Test’. The list of tools needed for this test are as follows-
- Wooden spoon
- Ice cubes
- Glass/ Bowl
Basically, all you need to do is dip a wooden spoon inside your sugar mixture. Then, take out the wooden spoon. Put it inside the glass or bowl containing ice cubes and ice-cold water.
How does this test help? Well, this method basically gives you a spoiler of the final outcome of your caramel. What does this mean?
Well, your caramel will come in contact with the ice-cold water, right? So, the sample of caramel will show the final condition. That’s right, you’ll see the same condition after you’ve cooked and cooled it.
That is, is the caramel sample hardening into a firmer form? Then you’re on the right track. If not, heat it some more and repeat the test after some time.
The Cold Water Test may require some extra steps than measuring the temperature directly. But nothing to worry about too much! It’s far more accurate than measuring with a candy thermometer.
Not only that, when you let the sample set in ice-cold water, you get a hold of other factors like the humidity of your kitchen. This is something that a thermometer can’t measure, now can it?
This method may seem a bit difficult. However, remember that keeping track of correct temperature is crucial.
Method 4 of 4: Re-melting the Caramel
What if your caramel is too soft? Is there a way to go back to square one? Well, the answer is, absolutely!
So, what do you have to do? Put the caramel mixture back again in the cooking pan. This method when you accidentally take the caramel out too quickly!
By putting the mixture back into the cooking pan, the sugar dissolves completely. Add water to the mixture and stir it properly and thoroughly. Then, boil the mixture again.
Keep note that this method will cause your caramel to look darker in color than before. Even if it looks burnt, there’s nothing to worry about. After all, a change in color means nothing if you get a firm caramel, right?
But even though it needs adequate heat, you shouldn’t overheat the mixture. We know that high temperatures can cause your meat to turn black. Similarly, you don’t want scorched caramel, now would you?
This method can be quite difficult. After all, you need to be concerned about various factors. For example, you need to be careful so that the mixture doesn’t scorch too much.
But re-melting and re-boiling can give you a firmer caramel. You won’t be wasting any components for taking the mixture out too early previously either, so it’s a win-win situation!
What Could Have Been Done to Prevent This?
Well, want to make sure this problem doesn’t exist, to begin with? Then, you must pay utmost care while cooking the caramel.
Always cool your caramel slowly and with care. The sugar and solids of your caramel should be allowed to caramelize and this will take time.
So, cooking it for a longer time will ensure a firmer shape. It will also result in a flavourful caramel.
On the other hand, if you cook it for a shorter time, it will have a burnt taste. So, make sure you don’t rush while making caramel.
Mistakes While Making Caramel
To make things easier for you, we’re offering you a list of hacks. They are-
Avoid Thick Pots
Make sure you use a thick pot while cooking caramel. The heat distribution in thin pots is uneven, resulting in really soft caramel.
A stainless steel pot would be perfect in this case.
Ensure A Clean Pot
Thoroughly clean your cooking pot before starting to cook. Crumbs of leftover food will harm the consistency of your caramel.
Grease Your Pot
Depending on what you’ll use the caramel for, it might turn out to be sticky. So, before you pour caramel after cooking, grease the empty pan.
Don’t Burn Yourself
Always be concerned about safety precautions and maintain them at all costs. Always wear full-sleeved clothes, mittens, and shoes. You’d want to protect yourself if hot sugar gets splashed, right?
If your caramel coating is too thin, you can fix it. Just allow your mixture to cool first. Then stir everything thoroughly and fast. This will solve the problem.
Yes, it’s possible to microwave caramel. However, it would be feasible only if you prepare small quantities of caramel. Because it’s easy to ruin the taste. So, proper timing is essential.
Caramels crystallize because they are not stored in the correct way. So, make sure you always store your caramel in a cool, dry, and airtight place to avoid this problem.
So, that’s it from us. These are the 4 ways on how to fix caramel that is too soft.
Apart from the methods we’ve mentioned, always use granulated white sugar while preparing caramel. This will avoid clumps and result in a smooth texture.
Let us know if these methods have saved your caramel in the comments below!