A few weeks ago I made some boiled apple cider. It was tasty, and after eating most of it I decided to make more. This time I used a gallon of cider, and it wasn't done after a day so I turned the slow cooker to "low" and left it overnight. Turns out that was too much! It had reduced to about 1/10 its original volume (1gal to 12oz), which wouldn't be too bad if I ended up with caramel. Except that it also has a decidedly burnt flavor, probably from getting too hot at the end. I like dark caramel, but this is past dark.

On the plus side, it's fun to play with, a bit like silly putty:

The kids have told me I can't throw it out yet, but it probably goes tomorrow. It's frustrating because the apple cider caramel flavors are all there, there's just also a persistent flavor of 'burnt'.

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That's a cute photo, I used to love doing these kinds of cooking experiments as a child. Great intro to chemistry and you get to eat it... If successful!

Your mention of the burnt sugar did make me think of something, however. It's been on my list of things to research for a while:

How bad for you is burned sugar? Is it carcinogenic in the same way as burnt oil (oil heated past the smoke point I mean)? If so, is all caramel bad, even stuff that wouldn't be considered burnt? And what about the fumes released during cooking?

All things come with a tradeoff so this is not intended with an anti-caramel agenda. Rather I'm thinking about minimizing health risk from tasty treats.

I should try making caramel from erythritol. I bet it has a cool minty taste.