March 2011

Science of Cooking Recipes

Before you begin, make sure you have everything ready to go – the cream and the butter should be next to the pan, ready to put in. Making caramel is a fast process that cannot wait for you to hunt around for ingredients. If you don’t work fast, the sugar will burn. Also make sure there are no children under foot, and you may want to wear oven mitts; the caramelized sugar will be much hotter than boiling water.

1. Heat sugar on moderately high heat in a heavy-bottomed 2- or 3-quart saucepan. As the sugar begins to melt, stir vigorously with a whisk or wooden spoon. As soon as the sugar comes to a boil, stop stirring. You can swirl the pan a bit if you want from this point on. Note that this recipe works best if you are using a thick-bottomed pan. If you find that you end up burning some of the sugar before the rest of it is melted, next time add a half cup of water to the sugar at the beginning of the process – this will help the sugar to cook more evenly, although it will take longer, as the water will need to evaporate before the sugar will caramelize.
2. As soon as all the sugar crystals have melted (the liquid sugar should be dark amber in color), immediately add the butter to the pan. Whisk until the butter has melted.
3. Take the pan off the heat. Count to three, and then slowly add the cream to the pan and continue to whisk to incorporate. Note than when you add the butter and the cream, the mixture will foam up considerably. This is why you must use a pan that can hold at least 2 quarts (preferably 3 quarts).
4. Whisk until caramel sauce is smooth. Let it cool in the pan for a couple minutes, then pour into a glass mason jar and let sit to cool to room temperature. (Remember to use pot holders when handling the jar filled with hot caramel sauce.) Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Warm before serving.


Shirley Corriher’s carrots with raspberry-Chambord sauce

Science behind the food

• Use this recipe to show the caramelization of candy and increased sweetness of carrots when cooked

2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
2 packages frozen raspberries, thawed
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons Chambord or raspberry or orange liqueur
4 tablespoons (1/4 stick) lightly salted butter
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
Finely grated zest of one lemon

1. Boil the carrots in water (just enough to cover them) with 1 tablespoon brown sugar and 1 tablespoon salt. When they are fork-tender (about 10 minutes), drain well.
2. To prepare the sauce, drain the juice from the thawed raspberries into a medium saucepan. Stir in cornstarch and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the juice thickens. Stir in the liqueur.
3. When ready to serve, reheat the carrots by sautéing in butter in large skillet over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, white pepper and lemon zest.
4. Mound the carrots attractively on a platter, leaving a border around the edge. Spoon the bright red raspberry sauce into the border around the carrots and serve hot.

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