Personally I dont think there is anything different! They are both melted sugar products. I am a future chef & I watch the Food Network all the time! I have learned that Its just how people adapt language, just like people say pecan differently or tomato, even potato. Either way they are all delicious things, and its all just how you are brought up to say things.
"Carmel" is nothing but a mispronunciation, when it comes to food. Part of the problem is that people say "carmelization" instead "carAmelization" -- I'm guilty of that, too. But cooked sugar is caramel is cooked sugar.
American Heritage Dictionary details that it can be pronounced with either three or two syllables. Jacques just pronounced it with three, not 30 seconds ago on PBS. He seems to be using the terms interchangeably as well....
Read my lips--there is no word "carmel", spelled with a small letter "c", used to describe a cooked sugar syrup. It does not exist in the English language. We also have the American Heritage dictionary and it does indeed allow the previously mentioned two-syllable pronunciation, but the word is always "caramel".
Bit late to this because I was visiting, among other places, Carmel. The incorrect spelling of this word drives me nuts (along with recipie - strange pie indeed!). Carmelization is the process of filling a small town with art and antique shops and nothing to do with cooking AT ALL. Pronounce it how you will but caramel always has two 'a's.
I understand the frustration with spelling the word - the English language is falling apart, i get laughed at when i use proper grammar. My Mom has a theory about it that i think applies here. People just don't read anymore. When they spell, they spell phonetically, it is seen all over the internet (My newest pet peeve? Adults writing "dat" in a serious conversation instead of "that". Yikes!). But the original post asked if there were two different products. Absolutelynot. The spelling is, of course, caramel, and i think the pronunciation is probably more like carIB-ee-uhn/ car-a-BEE-un. Sort of hard to solve ;-) When in doubt, Dictionary dot com has a button you can push and a voice will read the word. It's pretty spiffy.
A Google search can solve many of these questions. A woman today in another baking forum was freaked out because a recipe called for "copha", and was taking a lot of the chef's time. I just Googled it & found the answer in two seconds. Not because i'm extra smart, i just know we can look these things up that way. I think a lot of us are just getting lazy. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/crazy.gif Siigh.
Hey everyone this is a very late reply. . . But i found this page and the argument over Caramel and Carmel quite funny. My name is Carmel and that is a normal name from where I live and yes caramel is only used to refer to the food part. Carmel is named after the Saint Carmel
3 syllables, "care-ah-mel", hence the two "a"s in the spelling. There was a discussion on this in e-gullet not too long ago, in which I pointed out the same spelling, pronunciation and 3, not 2, syllables. Regretfully since I am (a) a Canuck, and (b) a dirty sordid, food business owner, I was told in not too pleasant terms that since the pronunciation "car-muhl" existed in Wikipedia, I had no right to educate others on the proper pronunciation.