This month (with a 3-1 vote by Mélanger readers!), I will be tackling caramel and exploring what mouth-watering treats I can create with various proportions of sugar and water – plus butter and cream!
Creamy or crunchy. Hard or soft. Caramel is a gem in the baking arsenal. Often a well placed decoration in a desert or the all-round star of the show. Either way, its versatility is undeniable.
Caramel is loved the world over. But I think I personally know caramel’s #1 fan. It comes in the always effervescent package known as Ms Contreras.
At 15, Ms Contreras moved from Chile with her family to Australia. She spoke no English. Quickly, she found herself caught up in the routine of her new life. One such event was a trip to the local supermarket.
Ms Contreras thought all her Christmases had come at once when she spied an over-sized jar of caramel. This jar spoke no Spanish, but she just knew it was talking to her. Compelling her to buy it. Needless to say, there was little resistance from Ms Contreras.
Once home, she quickly whipped the lid off the container, and with spoon ready, Ms Contreras dipped in without hesitation. As soon as the spoon reached her mouth, alarm bells went off. She may not have been able to read English at this stage, but her taste buds could immediately translate.
What she so longingly wanted to taste, was not her beloved caramel at all. Her secret food desire. But in fact, what she tasted was peanut butter. Plain, old peanut butter.
With her little 15 year old shoulders slumped, and her spirit broken, she declared – and still does to this day – that to be the worst day of her life.
The treats I make during :: Caramel Month :: will never ever make up for that day, but hopefully one or two (that I, of course, will share!) will put a smile on her face.