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Recipe File: English Toffee
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Annie D.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 28, 2011 7:33 pm    Post subject: separation Reply with quote

I am so hopeful somebody can help me. I have been making toffee for years without any challenges. A few times a had separation occur, but rarely. Yesterday I had to make several batches of toffee for a friend, and all 5 batches separated. I know I did EVERYTHING exactly as I always do...same pan, same spoon, same heat, same ingredients...It was so frustrating. I know many people on this site and others say it is because the sugar crystalizes or the butter melted at too high of a heat, but I did it exactly the same as always. Because I have been doing it for so long, I can almost do it in my sleep...not much effort is needed to have a successful batch. I was devastated to not be able to deliver for my friend. I am also starting a toffee business and have found commercial kitchen space to rent and everything, and we own a meat market which is the perfect venue for which to sell it. However, I have lost all confidence after what has happened yesterday. The ONLY thing different is that it was snowing quite hard here in Illinois and I am wondering if the moisture in the air is what affected the toffee. Nobody seems to write this as a challenge. Today I tried again and separation occurred again, but it wasn't as bad. It is not snowing today, but the air could still be moist. PLEASE advise me if you think this could be a reason for the toffee failure. I am going crazy trying to figure out what else it could be!!!
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Dilbert



Joined: 19 Oct 2007
Posts: 1011
Location: central PA

PostPosted: Fri Jan 28, 2011 10:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

if you google "toffee separation" you'll find kazillions of opinions on how&why it happens.

the usually mentioned causes are:
bringing it to too high a temp
heating it too fast
too much / too little stirring (huh? - yeah, me too)
a rapid temp change - ie sudden cooling
humidity can be a factor - sugar is very hygroscopic - but this is more often a problem in warm humid weather - winter humidity is usually a lot lower.

if you're going into this on a professional scale, you'll need to be very rigorous with procedures / etc. a good thermometer, notes on how long it should take to heat up, heavy pots, starting ingredients at known/consistent temp, controlled workspace temp, etc.

I presume you're onto the use of corn syrup additives to cane sugar as a "catalyst" in preventing separation.
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oaklets
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 10:06 pm    Post subject: after 3 failures, success! Reply with quote

Yesterday I made 3 bad batches of toffee (using a different recipe) before finding this site! The first 2 I made separated, and the 3rd was grainy. I read posts here for over an hour, and tried again today. 2 successful batches in a row. Here's my input:

I followed this recipe pretty closely, but added 2 teaspoons of corn syrup. I kept my heat low, and didn't stir until the butter and sugar had melted together. I used a wet pastry brush to wipe the sides of the pan when sugar splashed up there. While the mixture was boiling, I stirred gently with a wooden paddle. I cooked the toffee until it was a bit over 300', and it turned out a beautiful dark brown, crisp snap, and not grainy.

Thank you for all the input!

Low humidity, cool kitchen
about 100 ft above sea level
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oaklets
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 10:12 pm    Post subject: ingredients! I forgot! Reply with quote

I went to the market and bought pure cane sugar. Yesterday I was using a bargain brand and it did not specify cane sugar. I also used Land o' Lakes butter, salted, and also added some salt to the mixture.
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stephaniehayes
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 20, 2011 7:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Right now I am waiting for my finished candy to cool for 20 minutes so I can refrigerate it, but sadly I think I burnt it. Mine turned a dark brown before it even reached 300, I kept the heat on low before everything melted and when It melted I followed directions and raised the temperature to medium-high, my toffee then turned a darkish brown. When I added the vanilla extract later the toffee began to splatter. But it still hasn't been tasted yet so lets hope for the best!
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1626
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Wed Jul 20, 2011 10:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

stephaniehayes wrote:
Right now I am waiting for my finished candy to cool for 20 minutes so I can refrigerate it, but sadly I think I burnt it. Mine turned a dark brown before it even reached 300, I kept the heat on low before everything melted and when It melted I followed directions and raised the temperature to medium-high, my toffee then turned a darkish brown. When I added the vanilla extract later the toffee began to splatter. But it still hasn't been tasted yet so lets hope for the best!

What type of thermometer did you use? It sounds like it's inaccurate or very slow because for sugar to caramelize it has to reach over 330°F.
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summer
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2011 3:51 pm    Post subject: Toffee Reply with quote

I have been making ALmond Toffee for decades, and I have read all your comments, and I agree, I do use karo, low heat and a good thermometer, I pour into disposabke pans because i use a small hammer to braek up the toffee. What I have noticed is that no one mentioned freezing. I keep in freezer. I can make ahead of time for the holidays.
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dency
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2011 12:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have no instant read thermometer or candy thermometer. Can I still make this toffee?
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Dilbert



Joined: 19 Oct 2007
Posts: 1011
Location: central PA

PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2011 3:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

yes - see:
http://southernfood.about.com/library/info/blcandy.htm

it may take some practice to learn the various "stages" - but that's how they did it in in 'the good old days'
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 15, 2011 1:34 pm    Post subject: How to make a toffee mould Reply with quote

Someone asked how to make nice regular shapes? Well I made butterscotch toffees the other day, and without my lollie moulds I was a bit lost and did some experimenting and came up with this:

- Take a baking dish like a lasagne dish and fill it with icing sugar, about 2cm or an inch high, and pack firmly
- Using a rounded tea spoon, like a measuring spoon - or any shaped item, a finger will do! - press into the icing sugar, evenly spaced. Don't cram them too close or you will disturb the dip/hole next to it and get uneven shapes, and don't go too deep either or it will stick to the dish!
- When ready, spoon your toffee into your mould (dips, holes whatever!). The toffee won't stick to the icing sugar and will run into the moulds nicely - but toffee is super hot and this is tricky work! Wear long sleeves and keep cold water near by if you get burned.
- Let it cool, then remove from the sugar to store.

I left mine in the sugar too long and it went a bit soft!
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Juliana L.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 1:31 am    Post subject: Separation Reply with quote

I've used this recipe a number of times before and never had any trouble (except the time I was trying to do two things at once and not paying enough attention) before today.

It took a couple tries before I figured out that it was the vanilla causing the separation. I'm using a different brand and it's a relatively humid day, so I suppose there could be several factors at work. Either way, I added the vanilla early and the third batch came out fine.
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Superbaker
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 2:40 am    Post subject: English Toffee Reply with quote

This recipe is perfect!! The first time it didnt come great because I didn't have a candy thermometer and didn't cook it long enough. This time I cut the recipe in half and used a small circulon frying pan on med-hi heat and used a slotted metal spoon stirring constantly which kept it from separating. I sprayed a cookie sheet with Pam and when it thickened and turned a buterscotch color I poured it onto the pan and spread it out. Turned out fantastic!!!!! Thanks so much.
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theresabaker
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 24, 2011 7:19 pm    Post subject: high altitudes Reply with quote

Thank you for a great site with technical answers to cooking problems. I am a professional baker and I have moved from Charleston, SC to southern Colorado. I now live at about 8500ft. I have made this recipe four times in the last week. Each time I have experienced complete seaperation at 230 degrees. Each time I have been able to bring the mixture back by adding water (1/4 c) and stirring until it comes back together. The water brings the temp back down to 202 degrees and then it will break again at 230-240 degrees. This will happen several times and at around 270 degrees I give up and pour it over the almonds. Each time the end result is very good. Unfortunately this process takes almost 2 hours of constant attention.
I melt the butter (great value) and sugar (c&H) together very slowly-almost 20 mins with 2 T water and 1 T corn syrup and 1/2 t salt.
I turn the heat up to low and cook till it boils, about 15 mins.
It will boil for about 20 mins then completely seperate at 230 degrees.
I use an all clad pot. I have a flat top stove and I am at 8500Ft. Any suggestions or comments from those living at really high alt. would be appreciated.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2011 5:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just made this, following the instructions exactly, and it came out perfect! I live about 1,000 ft. above sea level, and weather.com said the humidity today was 54%, if that helps. Thank you so much for this delicious recipe!
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EngineerMark
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2011 6:14 pm    Post subject: Perfect Toffe at 5820 Ft. (a mile high) Reply with quote

I have a recipe perfected and it just doesn't seem to be any issue of seperation unless I don't pay attention to the following.

1. I use a stainless steel farberware 10" dutch oven and a 4" wide wooden stirring paddle with the 4" flat edge able to stir the bottom of pan in about 3 swipes.

2. I use an electric stove with the large caldron at 4 o'clock (medium high). This is pretty hot so you need to keep moving.

3. Recipe is a simple 1 lb. Costco Butter, 1/2 tsp salt and 2 3/4 c&h sugar.

4. Turn on the burner to 4 o'clock. Unwrap the butter - I use the wrapper for greasing a 11x17 cookie sheet (Walmart has great commercial version for about $9)

5. Put butter in pan off heat and break into as small a pieces as you can stand with the wooden spatula. Put the pan on the heat AND START STIRRING. Good to have your sugar and salt premeasued. Melt the butter about half way wile stirring (if you don't stir - everything will seperate later). Add the sugar AND KEEP STIRRING. This is the most critical part - if you dont stir from cool butter and keep up the constant stir as you incorporate the butter you WILL get seperation. When all butter is melted and you hit 190-200 degrees add a cup of almonds if you like right into pan (by the way - did i say keep stirring).

6. Being a true engineer, I use a Fluke 62 IR Thermometer for exact temps. Once you get to the boiling stage at about 200, the period from 200-250 is not quite as critical (but you must keep up a constant stir). If the stirring didn't happen earlier, I have found there is seperation as you move through, but with a constant figure 8 and side pan scraping, the trek to 295 degrees is just a constant stir with quick checks of temp. Within about 10 minutes you will hit 295 degress - I pull just a little early as the toffee is still cooking. The pan is hot enough at this point if you let it sit without stirring it will burn. So pull off heat and stir for about a minute until the pan cools just enough to stop cooking.

7. Pour quickly onto 11x17 pan. I use the wooden spatula for initial spread and the get a standard table teaspoon and us the back to scrape off the extra candy off the wooden spatula and do final spread into the corners.

8. So if you want chocolat on top, wait for the center of the surface to cool to 180 (man is the fluke useful). At that point, take a paper towel and wipe the surface of any butter on top. The product will be hot but workable. There shouldn't be much butter on top.

9. Sprinkle 5 ounces of chocolate chips and then spread. Sprinke with nuts ( I actually blend almond for about 10 seconds). Tamp down with the base of a glass. Let it cool (I put it in the fridge for a while).

10. You can break it up at this point, but you can also flip the product in a second pan, melt 5 ounces of chocolate in double boiler, spread with a rubber spatula and sprikle again with nuts.

Toffee is a labor of love and for about 20 minutes it needs 100% of your attention. If you don't incorporate the butter early, it will seperate. If you stick with it, cook it at a reasonable high temp and keep up the stirring, it turns out perfect every time.
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