A soft spot for caramel

Surrender to sweet, gooey, dentist-be-darned dishes
ELAINE JOHNSON

As far as meanings go, the word caramel is rich. It's a flavor, a color, and a process: to caramelize means to heat sugar until it melts and develops the bittersweet flavor and amber color we associate with the candy. Sugar can be caramelized alone, in which case it hardens to amber glass as it cools. Or it can be mixed with cream before or during the process to create thick sauces that scream for ice cream and candylike mixtures ideal for filling apple dumplings or cloaking sumptuous tortes.

Caramel-Cloaked Chocolate-Hazelnut Torte

Caramel Pudding

Caramel Sauce

Double-Caramel Apple Dumplings