Things got off to a sticky start in Episode 3 of All-Star Academy when Mimi attempted her first caramel sauce and Chef Curtis nearly lost his cool. “Pull it off the heat right now! Now!” he bellowed to the home cook from the sidelines. But it was too late. “It’s burnt,” he declared. “Take that caramel sauce [away]. I don’t want to see it.” Fortunately, Mimi was able to shift gears and come up with a whipped cream for her apple crumble that judge Elizabeth Falkner later deemed “awesome.” You might not be so lucky — or have the ingredients for a different topping on hand. To create smooth, buttery caramel the first time around, try the following tips.
1. Gather your ingredients before you start cooking: Caramel can go from silky and sweet to burnt and acrid in less than a minute. With your mix-in ingredients (cream, butter or water) prepped and measured, you can add them at just the right moment to stop the cooking.