Though I’m given full run of the house and the kitchen, being a live-in nanny means that there’s a level of awkwardness that remains when it comes to baking for pleasure in my employer’s house. I keep my own supply of dry ingredients, but eventually I have to use one of their eggs or some milk and that just feels wrong, despite it being emphatically allowed.
So I don’t do a lot of cooking or baking these days, unless the house is quiet and empty and I have everything prepared. Fortunately, I have creative friends.
On Sunday night my friend Oliver invited me over for dinner and the creation of caramels, and I agreed to go if he would pronounce “caramel” correctly the whole night, which he most certainly did not.
Oliver is dangerously domestic. We had a lovely homemade dinner, which Oliver creates on the fly with no effort and with the earned superiority that comes from being competent in the kitchen.
And it was delicious, damn him.
We did up some Bailey’s Irish Cream next, pending the creation of our own chocolate syrup, and I don’t think I ever fully understood how much heavy cream goes into it. It’s a lot.
I, of course, had none of this because I won’t be 21 for seven days and it’s illegal and I’m a good citizen, don’t arrest me.
Next we went on to craft the caramel, and as it turns out, I never truly wanted to know what goes into caramel, and I even find it fortunate that I haven’t consumed much of it in my life, because after making it I feel like any I ate is probably still lining my intestines.
The ingredients are really quite simple. First, you dump several cups of white sugar in a pot. Then you add the corn syrup.
And you just… just mix up this sugar and corn syrup. I know this is difficult to follow.
After that you heat it to 310 degrees, which is, as we discovered, hot enough to melt a rubber spatula. Note to future self: Do not use rubber spatulas when creating caramel.
Nothing makes you feel more like a witch than watching this stuff boil. Bubble, bubble…
After it’s reached 310 degrees, you throw in a lot of heavy cream, which results in an interesting reaction and which causes everything to instantly congeal. When this has become a horrible oobleck-resembling mess, you throw in the healthiest ingredient (butter!) and you’re done. And somehow, these four terrible ingredients have produced the smooth and chewy substance we all know and will probably die from.
Now you just stare at it for several hours until it hardens under your harsh gaze.
We did this twice more just to really experience it, and because Oliver, who may not actually be a real human being, is planning on distributing homemade caramel and homemade Bailey’s to his co-workers, who are probably very glad that they know someone who will provide them with 50% of their Christmas treats.
If you have a friend that creates, go spend time with them, because there’s really nothing like the feeling of scraping congealed brown junk off the bottom of the pot and knowing deep down that you ate far too much of this as a child and that it may never have left your body.