A mixture produced when sugar has been cooked (caramelized) until it melts and becomes a thick, clear liquid that can range in color from golden to deep brown (from 320° to 350°F on a candy thermometer). Water can be added to thin the mixture. Caramel is used to flavor and color soups, stocks and saucessweet and savory. It's also used in desserts. When it cools and hardens, caramel cracks easily and is the base for nut brittles. Crushed caramel is used as a topping for ice cream and other desserts. A soft caramel is a candy made with caramelized sugar, butter and milk or cream, and sometimes corn syrup.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.