Caramel seems innocent enough. But beware, because in my highly subjective experience, people who make caramel from scratch burn themselves like a mother&^%$* over and over and over again.
In 2002, during the first few weeks of culinary school, one woman already stood out from the pack. I don't know if it's because she was younger, tried harder, or was just more talented than the rest of us (probably all three), but she cooked with a fluidity and ease that make me feel like a drunken elephant. At some point in your life you stop hating people like this and, instead, learn to respect their skills. I did, and still do. She's a brilliant cook.
So we're on the caramel lesson, and all of a sudden there's a sound from the other side of the kitchen. Turns out she'd burned her finger on the caramel. And you know what happened when she burned her finger? She instinctively brought it right up to her mouth to suck on, burned her lip, and burned the inside of her mouth for good measure. Got a big blister for her troubles, too.
I think over the course of that year each of us in the class did the exact same thing: burned the finger/put it in the mouth/burned the mouth. It's the stupidest thing in the world to do after you've seen someone else do it, but humans can be incredibly stupid sometimes. Really, really stupid. Wonderful, and sweet, and funny, but stupid. I'm a case in point.
So when I make caramel, like I did when I followed Charmian's amazing salted caramel ice cream recipe, I guard against burns. I suit up. I wear long sleeves, I put on real shoes, and I repeat a mantra over and over and over again: don't put your finger in your mouth don't put your finger in your mouth don't put your finger in your mouth don't put your finger in your mouth don't put your finger in your mouth don't...
Then the caramel's done, and I'm safe. And it looks so, so good. All deep and brown and sweet smelling, all tempting and inviting. All I have to do is wait for it to cool. I wonder if it's ready to taste? It looks ready. Maybe I'll just swipe my index finger in really fast and OW *CRAP* (suck) annnnnnnnnnnnd there's the burn.