one ingredient caramel from Bon Appetit Magazine

I tweet occasionally and I follow a few worthy writers and one or two un-worthy I suspect.  Yesterday this appeared in my newsfeed from Bon Appetite Magazine.

This 1-ingredient caramel is completely sugar-free. Curious? Learn how to make it at the link

Intrigued as I was as to how they created a partly burnt sugar without using sugar, I followed the link. Basically they cook sweet potatoes in water and mash them up and reduce that and call it caramel.  Not an inverted comma in sight, no quotation marks, speech marks call them what you will… They call it Caramel.

I have been known to get hot under the collar about things and the brunt of this usually ends up with family and friends but I thought I would vent my spleen slightly wider.

Caramel (/?kær?m?l/ or /?k?rm?l/[1][2]) is a beige to dark-brown confectionery product made by heating any of a variety of sugars.

The process of caramelization consists of heating sugar slowly to around 170 °C (340 °F). As the sugar heats, the molecules break down and re-form into compounds with a characteristic color and flavor.

This is from Wikipaedia

Or my understanding from a Catering/cooking background is that it is a burnt sugar, used for coloring and sweetening foods.

Please note that both these definitions have sugar in them.

How can you make burnt sugar without using sugar Bon Appetit?

What they are trying to tell us I suspect, is that you can make something brown and sweet without resorting to using the processed, white sugar Glucose, C6 H12 O6.

But Fructose which is found in Sweet potatoes with Carbohydrates at an astounding 70.54% (1) in it’s boiled form, is just as much “sugar” as the white stuff.  It has been added to foods to sweeten it for years.  Is this what they add when they say No added sugar I wonder. {Note to self…. Research required.}

Anyway, Sweet potatoes are full of sugars Bon Appetite, even if it is not bleached and refined white stuff.  And Caramel is Caramel.

Elizabeth David wrote an article in 1962 talking about ‘The True Emulsion’, in “An Omelette and a Glass of Wine” where she bemoans the fact that if you make something like mayonnaise, the same colour, near enough and its got oil in it,  you can call it mayonnaise.

A red Ferrari is a sports car; four wheels, fast. A red Ford escort is not a sports car just because it has four wheels and is fast.

Mashed sweet potatoes is not Caramel.

It is, however, probably sweet and delicious.

I feel better for that.

(1) International Food Research Journal 17: 411-416 (2010)