Caramel is nothing more nor less than browned sugar, but if the process of caramelizing the sugar is performed carefully, the result will be a delicious flavoring material that may be used for desserts of any kind or for making sauces to serve with desserts. When the sugar is browned to make caramel, a certain amount of sweetness is lost, so that more sugar must be used than would ordinarily be needed to sweeten the same amount of custard.
To make the caramel required in the accompanying recipe, place 1/2 cupful of sugar in a small saucepan over the fire. Allow the sugar to melt slowly, stirring it as little as possible. When it has completely melted and no more of it remains white, add 1/2 cupful of boiling water. Allow this to cook until a heavy sirup is formed. Care must be taken not to burn the sugar black, for if this is done, the custard, or whatever is flavored with the caramel, will have a burnt taste. The color should be a clear reddish-brown. Maple sirup may be used in the same way as caramel by cooking it until it becomes thick.
Sufficient to serve six.
Heat the milk in a double boiler, add the caramel to the milk, and then cool the mixture. Beat the eggs and add them to the caramel and milk. Add the salt and vanilla. Pour the custard into buttered baking dishes, set in a pan of warm water, and bake in a moderate oven until firm. Cool and serve.