Choc master offers his tips for making flavoured caramel

Chocolate fans, expect to hear the name Barry Johnson a lot in the future. Barry, previously principal chocolatier at the mould breaking Rococo Chocolate and part of the Michelin Star winning brigade at the upmarket country house hotel Coworth Park in Berkshire, England is a well known name within his industry, and he’s is about to go mainstream. He came to the public’s attention a year or so ago when two of his Rococo products, a Mandarin and Tonka Caramel, and Dark Caramel Bar won gold medals at the International Chocolate Awards. He’s now Chocolate lecturer (what a job title!) at the UK’s National Bakery School, which is now part of London’s South Bank University in London, and this week he and the School hosted the International Chocolate Awards advanced judging rounds.

Here, a group of chefs, writers, critics and enthusiasts with a passion for chocolate and serious palates gathered to judge some of the world’s best chocolates. One of these judges, author of the Great British Bake Off’s ‘Bake it Better’ chocolate book (available from Amazon and all good bookshops) Cat Black is blessed with a serious palate, says Barry, “is one to watch as a future star. He has a great appreciation of how to make a great chocolate and how to use it within his cooking”. Later this year Barry is launching a couple of products onto the market, so expect some interesting new flavours and texture combinations soon.

Anyway, I spent a day as a judge for the awards (the professionals spent seven days tasting and judging) and bumped into Barry during a break between tasting white chocolate bars with ones with ganache.

When I met him, he had just finished teaching a class of students the intricacies of making caramel from scratch, a vital skill for any pastry chef and home cook.

Here, Barry kindly shares some of the secrets of making great caramel without the horrors of over cooking, burning or creating a lumpen mess in the bottom of saucepan. Creating good caramel requires vigilance and patience to avoid the liquid recrystallising or burning, says Barry.

Listen to Barry’s words of caramelised wisdom!  

Bruce McMichael

Food writing, discovering food stories, meeting producers, chefs and food enthusiasts are all part of desire to inspire, inform my readers and fellow food lovers. I am a freelance writer, journalist and published author focusing on the international world of food and drink, culture and travel. In 2019 I graduated from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy with a Masters in Food Culture, Communication and Marketing. I am now a visiting Professor at the university teaching Food & Drink Writing. Based in London I travel widely, particularly across western Europe. I have chaired many conferences and meetings, spoken at conferences and events and often appear on radio and TV talking most about food, the business of food and being an entrepreneur. In 2017 I won an episode of the ITV (the UK-based national television channel) cooking competition show, 'Gordon Ramsay's Culinary Genius'. I took my children on holiday to Sicily with the prize money. As an experienced farmers' market manager and operator of a small marmalade/ preserves company, I am very familiar with the issues surrounding local food, farming, enterprise and the environment.