When you buy a Mayana Chocolate Candy Bar you can be assured you are going to get a thick luscious layer of caramel. A good caramel is tricky to make. It is also expensive, labor intensive, and takes many hours to make a single good batch. That is why I want you to have a lot of it!
During our first year of business I had many sleepless nights as I tried to figure out what would make our caramel perfect. There are many factors that come in to play.
First was textural. How do we create a caramel that is not grainy, but rather luscious and smooth. It takes sugar and also some corn syrup. We don't use high fructose corn syrup which is a cheap alternative to sugar. Our corn syrup is expensive and helps keep the sugar in the caramel from turning in to granulated form again. Also, a key to a good caramel is fat. We use a lot of Wisconsin Cream and Butter in to our caramel. It is not just caramelized sugar that gives caramel it's dark brown color. It is the milk proteins that are caramelizing. Have you ever seen butter brown in a skillet? That is what is happening to the butter in our caramel. It slowly cooks away for four hours in our copper kettle.
That brings to me another ingredient to good caramel -- Time. The slower a caramel cooks the deeper the flavor. Proteins are caramelizing and sugars are concentrating. Only time can make that happen. In technical terms this browning effect called the Maillard reaction. This is the same reaction that happens when steak is searing on a grill or a hot pan. A steak with a nice caramelized crust always tastes better than something pale. It is possible to crank the heat and make a caramel fast, but it will not have the depth of flavor that our four hour long caramel has. Also, high heat will make your caramel prone to burning (Just like an overly hot grill will char steak versus develop a deep caramelized color and flavor.)
We cook our caramel to 241 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature is firm enough for the caramel to hold it's shape, but soft enough so that it will never stick to you teeth. We pour the caramel on to 8 foot long granite table and let it sit there overnight. Fortunately for us our neighbors are Precision Counter tops and they have kindly outfitted our kitchen with 24 feet of Granite Tables. If you are making caramel and are having problems, please feel free to reach out. I'm very glad to share information that I have learned over the years.