Fire in the Hole!

Well my stack of Hungarian chocolate flapjacks is all put together except for the trademark caramel-candy top layer. As I mentioned before, I’m going for the fan blade presentation (but with a dark chocolate exterior). Doing that should be no big deal, you don’t need a thermometer to make this kind of simple caramel. All you have to do is eyeball it, taking the pan off the heat when it’s the shade you like (actually, the thing to do is to take it off just before it gets to the brownness you want since the caramel will continue to cook as long as it’s in the pan).

When you’re ready to pour make sure you do so slowly, since it will be very runny at first. Pouring slowly will give you more control since it allows for some cooling. Spread the caramel quickly with the buttered icing knife, pushing out from the center so the middle cools at roughly the same rate as the edges, and score it into wedges as soon as you’re finished. To score the top I use either a buttered bench scraper or (if I’m feeling especially uptight that day) a buttered metal ruler, pushing down with authority to get a good crease. I tend to like to separate the wedges around this time while the caramel is still a bit flexible. My favorite tool for the job: scissors.

I would be derelict in my sacred duty, oh my brothers and sisters, were I to fail to warn you as to how amazingly hot this stuff is. Molten sugar is a very dense liquid. It holds heat for a surprisingly long time. Plus it’s extremely sticky. All in all a bad combination for the unfortunate who tries to nudge a little caramel back into shape with the back of an index finger. So take good care. Have plenty of backup tools around and keep any small children out of the kitchen while you work. They don’t call this stuff Bakery Napalm for nothing.

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