When sugar is placed in a pot or pan over a flame or another source of heat, it transforms from a solid to a liquid substance. It develops a different taste and smell, and the most common term for the result of heated sugar is caramel.
The molecules in heated sugar break down and produce several different compounds. Its color shifts from white to amber before taking on a brown hue, and its sweet taste is replaced by a more bitter flavor. While heating sugar, keep a careful watch to prevent burning and crystallization of the sugar. Use a large pot or pan with a light-colored interior to observe any fluctuations in color.
Caramel can be created in two different varieties: dry and wet. To make dry caramel, put the sugar by itself in a pot or pan, and place it on a range at top temperature. The sugar transforms into a dark liquid, and as long as it is not stirred too much, it does not crystallize.
To make wet caramel, add a little water to the sugar as it cooks. While the sugar is dissolving, wear oven mitts since caramel is incredibly hot. Keep a bowl of ice on standby to treat any burns. Also use the ice to stop the caramelization process. Submerge the caramel in the ice when it appears done.