Caramel, butterscotch, and toffee are all made by heating sugar, but they are not simply three different names for exactly the same thing.Caramel is made by melting white granulated sugar…Butterscotch is made by melting brown sugar…Toffee is made from the same ingredients as butterscotch but cooked to a hard-crack stage.
As sugar slowly melts, the molecules break down and form new compounds that have a deep, rich flavor and dark golden brown color. This process is known as “caramelization” and can be achieved with any type of sugar.
There are two methods for making caramel.
The first method is to simply heat sugar until it liquifies.
The second method involves cooking all of the ingredients—milk or cream, sugar, butter, and vanilla—all at one time. The milk or butter actually caramelize, but the actual sugar does not. This type of caramel is often called milk caramel or cream caramel.
And as easy as these two methods may sound, far too many home cooks have experienced the disappointment of burning sugar when trying to make caramel…and perhaps like me, you’ve given up your hopes of making your grandmother’s recipe for caramel icing and settled for simply buying the stuff in the plastic container like everyone else does…
The reason that so many people simply end up making a mess during their first few attempts at making caramel is failing to stir the sugar constantly as it melts.
There is a small “window of opportunity” between sugar turning into caramel and sugar simply being burnt. Stirring helps prevent any “hot spot” and keeps the sugar from becoming too hot too quickly.
We all know that caramel is used to make candy, caramel corn, caramel apples…and makes Blue Bell taste even better…but since I still haven’t recovered from my last attempt at making homemade caramel icing…today I think that I’ll share three of my favorite libations—cappuccino, lattees, and macchiato…
But surprisingly, the first two things you need to make drinkable caramel concoctions are not coffee or espresso or milk or even sugar…
The first two things you need to make drinkable caramel concoctions are a great blender and Xanthan gum…
In addition to frappuccinos and smoothies and macchiatos and lattees…you’re gonna need a decent, dependable blender to make milkshakes, piña colada, and frozen margaritas…
1. The Blender…
The first patent for a “drink mixer” or blender was awarded in 1922 to Stephen J. Poplawski, owner of the Stevens Electric Company, for his Bel drink mixer…and he would definitely be shocked at all of the variations of the “drink mixer” available today.
Blenders can now even be bought specifically for making smoothies, frappuccinos, and other frozen drinks….These blenders have spigots so that drinks can be served quickly and stirring rods mounted on the lid so that drinks can be stirred while the machine is running without messing up the blades.
Go ahead and invest in a really good blender if and when you can… either an electric countertop blender and a handheld immersion blender…or both. Immersion blenders are convenient for small and specific tasks, but do not have as many uses as a countertop blender.
Features to consider when buying either type of blender include…
- Ease of cleaning
- Ease of use
- Large visible measurement marks
- Low noise during usage
- Option for quick “pulse” blending
- Power usage (typically 300-1000 watts)
2. The Xanthan Gum (Bob’s Red Mill)
-Xanthan gum is a common ingredient in salad dressings and ice cream. Xanthan gum thickens salad dressings and other sauces, and keep them from separating. Xanthan gum makes frozen products, especially ice cream, smoother and creamier-tasting,
A Frappuccino is an espresso coffee with frothed milk.
Frappuccinos were originally developed, named, trademarked, and sold by Coffee Connection, a coffee shop chain in Eastern Massachusetts coffee shop chain…(think k-cups)..
In 1994 Starbucks purchased The Coffee Connection chain, including the rights to use, make, market, and sell the Frappuccino beverage.
In 1995 Starbucks added the Frappuccino to its menu.
- 3C ice cubes
- 1C cold strong coffee, previously brewed and chilled
- 1/2C milk
Blend until smooth, creamy, fluffy, frothy, and combined, less than 1 minute.
Serve with sugar or Splenda, whipped cream, and caramel sauce.
The word “latte” means “milk coffee”…and a latte is coffee made even better by adding espresso and steamed milk.
The coffee In a latte can also be replaced with chai, Yerba mate, matcha, and other drink bases.
Iced lattes are typically made by combining espresso, sugar, flavoring syrups, and milk…and then pouring the “miik coffee” over ice.
Unlike a hot latte, an iced latte does not usually contain steamed milk or foam.
In a serving glass or mug, combine……
- 3/4C hot espresso or strong coffee
- 1/2C half-and-half
- 2tsp Toranicaramel-flavored syrup
- 1 1/2tsp Torani cinnamon-flavored syrup
Stir gently to combine.
Garnish with whipped cream and a cinnamon stick
The word macchiato means “stained coffee”…a layered drink consisting of milk steamed to a microfoam with a half shot espresso then poured gently through the foamy top layer to create a stain or “macchia” of espresso on the top.
The macchiato is made in the reverse order of a latte…and does not have as strong of a coffee flavor as a latte…
- 3/4C espresso or double strength caramel flavored coffee
- Pinch of xanthan gum
- 3/4C milk
- 3Tbsp Torani caramel syrup
Blend until ice is completely crushed and blended into coffee mixture.
Pour into a large cup.
Top with whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce.