Caramelized sugar refers to melting of sugar until it becomes a caramel coloured liquid (dark brown syrup) while reaching a temperature of 320 degrees F – 356 degrees F.
The recipe for which your sugar needs to be caramelized determines different stages which it will go through.
At around 338 Degrees F sugar begins to melt and caramelize creating an intense flavor and rich color. It turns dark from a light and clear liquid as it gets more heated. Caramel textures can range from soft to brittle depending upon when the cooking stops.
Soft Caramel can be made with caramelized sugar, butter and milk. Crushed caramel can be used for toppings in ice creams and desserts.
To caramelize sugar heat pure copper sugar pan or a non-stick pan and add the sugar in it. Add little water as it hastens the caramelization process and start stirring. Keep stirring till it reaches the consistency of wet sand.
You can add a few drops of lemon juice to prevent re-crystallization. Instead of lemon juice you can also use vinegar, cream of tartar or corn syrup to add acidity and prevent re-crystallization.
As sugar melts, wash down the sides of a pan with a wet brush. This also prevents crystallization as it removes any dried drops of syrup that might start crystals. As the caramel will heat it changes from light to deep brown in colour. Immediately remove from heat when the desired temperature is reached.