December 9, 2023

Granulated sugar is the backbone of confectionery. We would need granulated sugar to make delicious caramels, mouth-watering toffees, or soothing throat lozenges. Although all these items can be made with sugar substitutes, they taste nothing like sugar.

Two primary sources of granulated sugar are sugar beets and sugar cane. The juice from sugar beets or sugar cane is extracted using various methods. Premade sugar crystals then seed this super-saturated solution. The new sugar in the solution will crystallize. The crystals are then dried again, known as ‘raw sugar.’ These pages provide clear and informative explanations of these reactions.

Granulated sugar is most often used in confections. We must control the formation and texture of sugar crystals. This is done by mechanically milling the crystals into chocolate until they are well-ground into the mixture. Other confections, like caramel, toffee, and croquet, can be controlled by chemical means. I mean that we add everything correctly. To prevent crystal formation, we add a chemical substance to sugar. Usually, that substance is water. The water is added to the sugar through another sense, such as cream or butter. As the confection cooks, the water helps control the crystal size.

This is an excellent example of caramel cooking. I will walk you through how to make caramel and explain the effects of each step on crystal formation. To keep in line with summertime, I will add hibiscus flowers as a flavor and color to the caramel.

Hibiscus Caramels

This butter caramel recipe is classic but with a summery twist. The cream is infused with hibiscus flowers, adding a floral, citrusy note to the caramel and a beautiful purple color. You can also omit the flowers to make a classic caramel.


700g of sugar

500g cream plus 100g extra cream if necessary

40g dried hibiscus flowers

440g liquid glucose

Butter, 225g

5g salt

15g vanilla


Allow the cream to cool for at least 24 hours before adding the flowers. Warm the cream the next day and strain the flowers. Warming the cream will help you make more beautiful pink cream. After testing, add cream to make your cream 500g if there are many creams that the flowers have absorbed.

What about the elements that control crystallization? Three factors are involved: proper dissolution, stirring, and cooking times.

All of these are connected. Stirring helps dissolve any initial crystals. Use a pastry brush to clean the sides of the pot of any remaining crystals. It would help if you only stirred the mass in its initial phase. If you cannot help it, you shouldn’t continue stirring. The caramel should be cooked at medium heat. This will ensure that sugar crystals don’t have time to form but are quick enough to scorch the mixture.

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