Caramel in a can

February 23, 2009


You know those cans of stuff you buy on sale sometimes cause you tell yourself there will be days just like this one where you’ve got a. lots of free time b. you’ve got lots of free time to cook c. you had no idea what to do with it when you bought it, but it was cheap or d. had the day off and went grocery shopping high.  Well, its one of those days. Or weekends, or weeks. In fact, I don’t know when I washed my hair last but whatever. We’ve all had them, the days where you walk out of the store with funky condensed soups, cheap-diced non-Italian tomatoes, taco kits, and weird seasoning packets. And then they sit in the cabinet because that’s what the pantry is for, to be filled with foodstuff we probably rarely use but are supposed to have. To rot.

SO, if you cook at all, or at the least grocery shop, you have some of this stuff packed away in the cupboards like me, admit it. And maybe you’ve got the whole unemployment thing lingering over your head too and you realize, well, all you’ve got is time. So, one of the things you might do to pass the time between fake applying for jobs?  You fuck around in the kitchen. Even if you burn the shit out of something, or ruin a pan, or are too lazy to go the store to buy more of something, and then try to substitute – but it ends up exploding or something. Who cares? It was technically already paid for, and it’s not like your experimenting with torchon, right? Also, if your plan works – a new recipe! Cheap dinner! Leftovers! Munchies!

So, what did I find in my cupboards that prompted my glow, anticipation, my excitement? Alas, not a man, but rather, three words: Sweetened Condensed Milk. So, what is it? Its milk with no water and sugar added. Its thick and pasty and I have no idea what people do with it. Did I mention I went to Pastry & Baking School? Yeah, we didn’t learn that. Ever. Wanna talk about inverted sugar? Molding chocolate? Tempering? Sure, I’m your gal. Sweetened condensed milk, you’ve got me beat. Anyways, Wikipedia says its “used in numerous desserts dishes” which is good enough for me; and considering the ingredients – making caramel out of it makes perfect sense. 

So, I googled and I found the “recipe” in a synch. You basically take a can of the stuff and take off the wrapper. You drop the can in the bottom a DEEP pot with atleast 3 inches of water on top. Boil for 4 hours non-stop. Make sure it is always covered in water (meaning, when the water starts to evaporate after a couple hours, add more). Let it cool on the counter a couple hours, and then put it in the fridge overnight. I didn’t try it, but I strongly suggest not trying to open it while it’s hot. Its basically hot molten sugar, and considering it involves the use of a can opener to get to, I strongly suggest against it. Anyways, wait. Sleep on it, dream about it. Then, the next morning, in your thong & slippers you can stand at the fridge eating it with a spoon. OK, maybe it was my finger. 

Anyways, what happens after you wrestle that can open even before coffee? You find the silkiest, shiniest most consistent caramel ever. Ok, it wasn’t perfect; it does have a tangy flavor to it. Almost like it was made with goat milk but not really. I can’t decide if the can was old and I didn’t check the date or its just supposed to taste that way.  On second thought, that shit it notorious for lasting forever, so I doubt it. So, yeah, tangy. In a kinda good way? I’m yet to put it in brownies with coconut but it did go well with pretzels and pocky. I have to admit I never heated it up, but if I did, I don’t think it could hurt some vanilla ice cream.  I can imagine it would be great for pie or make great sandwich cookie filling – even eaten like its frienemy nutella, right out of the jar. Hm, now if only condensed soup was so inspiring….

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