It may not surprise you to know that toffee (caramel) is the number one thing added to chocolate, just ahead of nuts and fruit.
Caramel is used in bon bons, as ice cream topping, a dessert sauce, and, by itself as a soft chewy treat.
Caramel is rich and warm and incredibly sweet and moreish, so we need to show some restraint.
Have you ever wondered where our favourite sweet treat came from? and you may also be surprised to know that nobody actually knows.
Isn’t it amazing that something so popular and that has been around for so long can still not have a clear story to its origin?
While it doesn’t change the delicious flavour, here is what we do know about caramel:
The word caramel probably comes from the Portuguese word caramelo, and has been around longer than we realise.
It’s thought the most basic form of caramel was first made by the Arabs around 1,000 AD by mixing sugar and water to form a crystallised liquid, that they used initially in the beauty industry, (think waxing and sugaring) and later becoming a confection which they first called simply a “ball of sweet.”
Caramel à la française
Caramels were one of the earliest types of sugar-based confections In Europe.
But it was in Brittany, north-west France, where caramels became famous around 14th century with caramel au beurre salé (salted butter caramel).
There were two reasons that Brittany became the home of caramels.
Firstly, the region’s supply of quality dairy products, especially milk and cream, but in particular its famed salted butter.
And secondly, in 1343, King Philippe VI of Valois, imposed a tax on salt, known as la gabelle du sel, but Brittany was exempted from the tax so its farmers could afford to use salt in the production of their butter.
It wasn’t long before salted butter was being used in caramel making, giving it a more distinctive taste.
Caramel is still produced in Brittany and just about everywhere today, but along the way there have been some interesting innovations.
It wasn’t until 1860 that chefs started adding milk and fat into this boiling sugar and water mix. This created the first softer, more drizzle-able caramel .
If you fancy making your own whiskey salted caramel sauce at home click here