Pronunciation: [KEHR-ah-meh-lyz; KAR-ah-meh-lyz]
To heat sugar until it liquefies and becomes a clear syrup ranging in color from golden to dark brown (from 320° to 350°F on a candy thermometer). Granulated or brown sugar can also be sprinkled on top of food and placed under a heat source, such as a broiler, until the sugar melts and caramelizes. A popular custard dessert finished in this fashion is crème brûlée. Caramelized sugar is also referred to as burnt sugar.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.