Filed under: Culinary
October 27, 2017
Did you know October is national Caramel Month? The Art Institute of Indianapolis just happens to have an expert on caramel, Chef Steve Keneipp. If you have followed us, you have seen his homemade caramels delighted even the queen herself, Julia Childs. And I can say that I have enjoyed his caramel sauce myself.
Chef Steve Keneipp
Caramel has been in the spotlight even before this month. Chef Keneipp has noticed the push in not just caramel, but salted caramel. “People like the profile with the salt. It makes the caramel taste pop more. Everywhere from high-profile restaurants to fast food chains are adding it to their menu items.” Whether adding salt or not, there are ways you can ensure your caramel is a success if you are making it from scratch.
INGREDIENTS - This is not a time to skimp, use good whole-fat butter, cream, and definitely real vanilla. “There is a shortage of vanilla right now, so many bottles may say it is pure vanilla, but check the fine print. I recently bought some online I thought was pure and then, in little print, it said 'artificial flavor added,' much to my disappointment.”
MOISTURE - If you make the caramel in October you have a better chance of it turning out better. Humidity plays a big part in how the caramel settles, as with many candies. The cooler air and less humidity allows the candy to cool and not reabsorb the moisture from the humidity in the air. This results in less sticky caramel.
TEMPERATURE - Finally, you want that slightly burnt taste, which requires a watchful eye and a calibrated thermometer. “A little wisp of blue smoke that is subtle is my goal. But not too much. As the saying goes, you need to ‘know when to fold.’” The biggest problem here, according to Chef Keneipp, is many people pull the candy thermometer out of the drawer and use it. “You need to first check the thermometer in boiling water. It should boil at 212 degrees. If it is more or less, you know you will need to adjust your recipe for that.”
Chef Steve's Classic Kitchen Costa Rican Flan with Caramel and Toasted Coconut
Chef Keneipp will not share his own recipe—“Some things have to be kept sacred.” Guests at Eleven the Restaurant will be able to enjoy a Costa Rican flan with caramel sauce this quarter. It is a recipe that Chef Keneipp obtained while in Costa Rica. To make reservations call 317.613.4928. And, for the record, Chef Keneipp’s favorite indulgence with caramel are good old-fashioned turtles.