Tamarind Is The Unexpected Ingredient You Need To Boost Caramel

Made from sugar that's been melted into a warm, amber color, caramel is used in an array of desserts. Its sweet, buttery, and sometimes smoky flavor can be added to custards, cakes, coffee, and more. But because the sauce is essentially just sugar, it's common to add extra ingredients like sea salt or even fish sauce to spruce it up. However, if you want to enhance the taste of your caramel and don't have either on hand, you should stop overlooking tamarind

Encased in a brown pod, tamarind is native to Africa and has made its way into the cuisines of Southeast Asia, Central America, and the Caribbean. While it shares the same sticky-sweet texture as caramel, the slightly grainy fruit has a sourness that fades away as it ripens. Typically used in chutneys, cocktails, and pad Thai, the fruit complements caramel with its tartness, which balances out the sometimes-overwhelming sweetness of caramel.

How to incorporate tamarind into your caramel

The simplest way to add the fruit to your caramel would be to purchase tamarind paste and simply combine it with your caramel. While tamarind pulp still has seeds and needs to be diluted, tamarind paste is ready to use. Although it provides you with ease of use, making your tamarind paste from scratch allows you to control the quality of the tamarind you put into your caramel, as well as how sour or sweet it is.

Remove the tamarind from the shell and remove the strands and seeds. Place the pulp into a pot and add some water, allowing it to boil for an hour or until the pulp has lost its shape and the seeds are easily visible. Strain the tamarind into a bowl and press down to release all of the water. Scoop up the remaining pulp from the strainer and place it into the bowl, as well.

When making your caramel from scratch, you can add in the tamarind paste, melting it down so the two fuse together. Drizzle the mixture over brownies and ice cream, or pop it in the freezer to make tamarind caramel candies.