My adventures recreating Alinea Restaurant’s food at home


Dry Caramel, Salt – Alinea recipe, pages 296-297.

This is a really cool and easy-to-make dish from the Alinea Restaurant cook book. I did this recipe with my daughter. We had a lotta fun! When you try the powderized caramel, it melts in your mouth — and changes back into chewy caramel!

Alinea Restaurant recipe for Dry Caramel, Salt


Caramel Base
Caramel is fairly easy to make — if you keep your eye on the candy temperature. A few ingredients, and constant monitoring are all that’s needed. Mise en place:

What are the Ingredients in caramel?

We combined some Water, sugar, cream and glucose in a medium saucepan and heated.

Glucose is also called corn syrup

Then added cubed butter a little at a time…

Adding butter to the caramel base

Whisking constantly, so the sugar and cream did not burn…

Whisking butter into the caramel base

We had a little issue with the cooking times for the sugar, but figured it out. The recipe says to cook the sugar to 240°F, which is at the low end of the soft ball stage. We did that, but the color wasn’t dark enough. So we cooked it a bit more — to 260°F, the hard ball stage. The color was good, but it kept deepening even after we removed it from the heat. The heat from the pan and the sugar’s temp keeps it a cookin!

Boil the sugar to 240-260 degrees F

We poured it out onto a Silpat silicone baking mat to cool.

Cooling the caramel base on a silicone mat

C&H cane sugar
Glucose (i.e., Karo corn syrup)
Alta-Dena heavy cream
Challenge unsalted butter


Dry Caramel
The caramel turned out well, was chewy and tasted pretty damn good, even though it had some imperfections and darker bits.

Soft caramel

We pulled it apart, combined small pieces with the maltodextrin powder, and processed in our Cuisinart mini food processor.

Caramel and maltodextrin in the food processor

It took a little more maltodextrin than specified in the recipe to result in a truly dry powder form. But — ’twas o so worth it!

Caramel powder

Caramel base, from above
Tapioca Maltodextrin, from Willpowder

Alinea cookbook recipe for Dry Caramel, Salt

To Assemble and Serve
Pour a little in a glass, and top with a few grains of Maldon sea salt and there you have it. We shared with our neighbors — telling them just a little.

“How weird!” Kirsten said, “I love it! But how weird!” It surprises everyone who tries it!

And they still keep asking for more, every couple of weeks…

Maldon sea salt

Salter digital scale
Cutting board and knife
Medium saucepan
Wire whisk
Candy thermometer
Silpat silicone baking mat
Cookie sheet
Cuisinart food processor
Rubber spatula
Plastic containers

Stemless wine glasses, from Crate&Barrel

Yields: enough for about 36 servings! You could easily cut this recipe in half, ’cause you’re gonna have A LOT of caramel leftover…

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