Caramel Spirals

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Recipe by Sarah Phillips; Food styling and photos by Kelly Hong © 2010 Sarah Phillips

We made and used these stunning golden Caramel Spirals to adorn our Chocolate Caramel Mille Crepes Cake, but they can be used to decorate any cake recipe.

Before you start making the caramel, look through your kitchen for tools on which to create the caramel spirals. You may use the stainless steel handle of a whisk and/or a knife sharpening steel.
The handle needs to be uniformly thick, and cannot flare out at the end, or you won't be able to remove the curls without breaking them.
It looks better if there are at least two different sizes of spirals on your cake. I used a large round whisk handle, a sharpening steel, and a small metal whisk handle.


Do not refrigerate or subject to humidity, otherwise the caramel spirals will become sticky and may start to disintegrate.

1 cup sugar; SARAH SAYS: I like to start with a fresh bag of sugar! Use a brand name CANE sugar for best results.
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon corn syrup

1. Have a large boil of ice and water ready. Set aside.
Cover a rimmed cookie sheet with a silpat nonstick mat. Set aside.
Boil water in a pot the caramel pot can fit on top of so you can rewarm the caramel when it cools too much. Cover and set aside.

Put a small amount of oil on a paper towel, and wipe the surface of the whisk handle and/or sharpening steel you will be using to form
the spirals on. Set aside.

2. Place the sugar and water into a 2-quart heavy bottomed saucepan.
SARAH SAYS: The pan must be spotlessly clean and dry, otherwise the sugar can crystallize.
Place over a medium heat.

3. Stir constantly till the sugar is totally dissolved and the liquid is ready to come to boil.
Stir in the corn syrup.

4. STOP stirring, and raise the heat to high. 

Wash down the sides of the pot with tap water and a clean brush. Dip the brush in water every time you use it.

5. Continue to let the sugar solution boil. DO NOT STIR or disturb the pot in any way, otherwise the sugar solution can crystallize. 

Boil until the sugar solution takes on an amber color. This takes about 10-15 minutes.

6. When it reaches the right color, remove pot from the heat and plunge the bottom of the pot into ice water - hold for about 5 seconds. 

This stops the cooking process!

7. IMMEDIATELY remove the pot from the ice bath and set on a heatproof surface. 

Stir caramel with a heatproof-handled spoon. Do NOT use a wooden spoon.
The caramel will begin to thicken as it cools.

Now be patient, you must allow the sugar to cool slightly and begin to thicken, before you can begin making the spirals.
This takes about 5-10 minutes. Slowly stir caramel, to assure the sugar cools evenly.

8. When caramel begins to get thick, pull up your spoon and observe the way the caramel falls from it.
When it begins to fall in a thick slow ribbon, it is ready to use.
Have a bowl of ice and water nearby in case you burn yourself with hot caramel; plunge any burned area into the cold water to stop the burning.

9. Lift spoon from the caramel and let it begin to flow off the spoon, into the pan.
Starting at the whisk end, begin wrapping the caramel, in a spiral, down to the end of the handle.
Be careful because the caramel is VERY HOT.
NOTE: If the caramel just falls off the handle, it is still too hot. If this happens, just let it cool a little longer.

10. Wait about ten seconds, and gently remove the spiral to a silpat lined baking sheet.
Leave space between the spirals so they don't stick together.


11. For the sharpening steel, use the same technique; it has a smaller circumference and will make the spiral tighter.
Continue making spirals, reheating the caramel when it gets too thick to work with.
SARAH SAYS: If the caramel begins to thicken too much, rewarm it on the top of a double boiler placed over previously boiled water.
There is a very narrow temperature window when the caramel is workable. The more you do it, the better you will get at it. It just takes practice.

KELLY SAYS: You could tell I was having lots of fun making caramel spirals!

The caramel spirals can be kept in a cool, dark place until needed, for about an hour.