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I have a chocolate syrup recipe that calls for around 1 cup of sugar and 3 cups of water. I have found that the recipe turns out better if I caramelize the sugar. However, when I add the water to the caramelized sugar, the sugar immediately hardens (due to the temperature difference, I assume). I have tried boiling the water, which helps, but the problem still exists(the melting point of sugar, according to wikipedia, is 320F, so there is still a significant temperature difference). Stirring until the hardened sugar dissolves is tedious and often leaves me with small, undissolved chunks. Is there a better way to dissolve caramelized sugar without it hardening?

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Random things to try:

  • Add the molten caramel to the hot water (not the other way around), slowly, stirring vigorously as you add it.
  • Allow the caramel to cool (in a heat-proof plastic bag, or on a marble slab as in candy making, or even on parchment paper), then crush it. Put in cold water, heat while stirring (similar to melting granulated sugar)

I'm pretty sure the second one will work (assuming the caramel becomes hard; if not melting syrup should work fine too); the first one might, it's probably quicker though at a higher risk of burns...

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Excellent suggestions- increasing the surface area of the sugar to make it dissolve faster. I think this requires some experimenting to see if they will save effort. – Sobachatina Mar 9 '11 at 13:35

Put the water in with the sugar and boil them together.

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But the sugar will never caramelize that way- until you boil out all the water and then you are back where you started. – Sobachatina Mar 9 '11 at 13:31
If the water was added gradually as the sugar caramelised it should be possible to get a very liquid caramel. Most caramel calls for some water to be added to the sugar before you start to heat it anyway, it's just a matter of slowly increasing that so the sugar dissolves but still caramelises. – ElendilTheTall Mar 9 '11 at 14:43
I had never added water before caramelizing, but I see that you are right and several recipes call for small amounts. I will try that next time. – michael Mar 9 '11 at 14:50
The water added before caramelizing in some recipes is just to help conduct heat as the sugar melts (to avoid burning the sugar). It is gone by the time the sugar reaches 213°F. – derobert Mar 10 '11 at 21:25
I finally got around to trying this. The sugar did not start to caramelize until all of the water was boiled out. What did work, was adding the water very slowly and stirring vigorously. – michael Jul 19 '11 at 18:11

Don't caramelize the sugar first.

My chocolate recipe calls for equal amounts of water and milk, and to get the sticky-effect (that I presume you're after by caramelizing your sugar) just boil it for as long as possible. Adding milk instead of water will have the milk boil and if you're not careful it will overflow. But if you keep a close eye on it, and keep at it it will eventually just be bubbling, and with the steaming reducing the watery-ness, it will become nice and thick.

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It's the flavor rather than the consistency that the caramelization improves. – michael Mar 9 '11 at 14:49

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