Caramel refers to a range of confections that are beige to dark brown in colour, derived from the caramelization of one or several types of sugars, often occurring in the traditional cooking method of a sweet. Caramel can provide the flavour in puddings and desserts, a filling in candies, or a topping for custards and ice creams.
Caramel is made by heating sugar slowly to around 170 °C (338 °F). As the sugar melts and approaches this temperature, the molecules break down and re-form into compounds with a characteristic caramel colour and flavour. A variety of candies, confections, and desserts are made with caramel and its products: caramel apples, barley sugar, caramel with nuts (such as praline, nougat, or brittle), and caramel with custard (such as crème caramel or crème brûlée).
Caramel colouring in contrast is a dark unsweetened liquid, the highly concentrated product of near total caramelization that is bottled for commercial and industrial use. Beverages such as cola use caramel colouring, and it is also used as a food colourant. On labels in the EU, it is called E150.