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The recipe says that the sugar syrup must reach 120C, but I have no sugar thermometer. Can it be done without a thermometer?

Dissolve the sugar in a medium saucepan with 120ml boiling water. When clear, bring to the boil and place a sugar thermometer in the pan.
Meanwhile, whisk the yolks with an electric mixer until creamy. When the sugar syrup reaches 120C, remove from the heat at once. Keep the mixer beaters running, drizzle the syrup onto the yolks and beat, on full speed, for 3-5 mins until you have a firm yellow foam. Remove and cool, whisking occasionally. Divide into 3 portions.

  • Do you have a digital probe thermometer? – ElendilTheTall Jun 4 '15 at 12:33
  • @ElendilTheTall: Nope :( – Gigili Jun 4 '15 at 12:35
  • Yes, it can, but it's hard. That is, you need to know what 120 C looks like, and if you haven't done it many times before, your first times you'll be likely to fail. It's not impossible, but a thermometer is the easiest solution. – rumtscho Jun 4 '15 at 13:17
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120°C is what's known as the firm ball stage of caramelisation, because when you drop some of the caramel into cold water, you should then be able to make a firm but still pliable ball with it. You can use this to determine the approximate temperature. This page lists all the stages so you can determine how far along you are.

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