and caramels are not the same.
its a little bit confusing, but youll get it in
are the chewy candies you are familiar with. Theyre
made by cooking sugar, cream, corn syrup, and butter to 245°
F. Their brown color comes from a reaction between the sugar
and the protein in the cream. This reaction is called the
after the French scientist who discovered it. The rich brown
color of toasted nuts and barbecued meats also comes from
the Maillard reaction.
simply, the Maillard reaction occurs when part of the sugar
molecule (the aldehyde group, if you must know) reacts with
the nitrogen part of the protein molecule (an amino group).
The resulting series of reactions is not well understood even
by food scientists, but it leads to the brown color and many
flavorful compounds that are yet to be identified.
Caramelization is what happens to pure sugar when it reaches
338° F. A few tablespoons of sugar put in a pan and heated
will eventually melt and, at 338° F, start to turn brown.
At this temperature, the sugar compounds begin to break down
and new compounds form.
with the Maillard reaction, the details of what happens during
caramelization arent well understood. But the results
are appreciated all the same. For example, caramelized sugar
is often used as decoration on fancy desserts. Try
caramelizing sugar yourselfits easy!
can also try making flan!