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Recipe File: English Toffee
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Jim
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2006 10:17 pm    Post subject: Success !!!! Reply with quote

I followed all directions just the way I did on previous ventures, with one exception, I cooked at a lower heat.

Butter, sugar, salt and water went in together over a low-medium burner. I stirred it rarely. When all was melted I increased heat to mid-medium stirring a little more frequently, but not constantly. When temp reached 200-210 I began to stir regularly. Pulled from heat at 300, added the vanilla, mixed thoroughly and poured onto a buttered cookie sheet. Texture of the batter looked fine. It is currently cooling.
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1619
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2006 11:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, it is important to melt the ingredients on low heat before bringing it up to the target temperature. Perhaps this was not emphasized enough in the article (it just said melt over gentle heat), so I'll update the article to clarify this. Hopefully future toffee makers will be successful on their first try. Thanks Jim! Send us another update after it's cooled to let us know if it's what you were aiming for.
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pswenso
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 19, 2006 1:51 am    Post subject: toffee Reply with quote

I've been making toffee for years, and throw away about 1/4 to 1/3 of what I make cuz i don't get something right. This site is very useful, and I can't wait to try another batch after reading these tips. I wonder though, I usually try to double or even quadruple my batches to speed things along. I didn't see anything in the forum regarding larger batches. Is it okay to do that if I follow everything to a "t"?
Thanks
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brianj774
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 19, 2006 3:37 am    Post subject: Successful Batch Reply with quote

I recently discovered this site, specifically while looking for a good recipe for english toffee. I've made it several times over the years, but stopped doing it myself 5 years ago. This year, I decided to take matters into my own hands, after a few too many batches of grainy/oily toffee.

Tonight I made my second batch according to this particular recipe. Last weeks batch came out perfectly, save that I didn't have any chocolate or nuts. I followed the directions to the letter. Tonight I deviated a little. I melted the butter and sugar together at low-medium heat, gradually increasing the temperature, once I felt the sugar crystals had dissolved. Then stirring only occasionally, I waited on medium-high heat for the temp to rise to 310F. Additionally, as an experiment, I swapped out 1/4 cup of the sugar for the same amount of dark brown sugar, because I wanted to generate a darker color.

The batch is cooling now, and it looks fantastic. I'll write back after I can taste it, to see if the brown sugar had any impact on the texture of the finished product.

Brian
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CaWineGuy
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 23, 2006 5:31 pm    Post subject: Some slight modifications... Reply with quote

As stated above, it is critically important to heat the butter & sugar gradually. I did a batch starting at low and never raising the temperature above medium. It came out great, except at the very end the temperature reached 290 and I started detecting a slight burnt odor. Trusting my nose more than the thermometer, I pulled it off at that point - and it is perfect.

I double checked the thermometer, and it seems to be spot on (at least for the boiling temperature of water). So perhaps a few degrees cooler (not a lot, just a few) might make things better.

Incidentally, if you pull it off too soon, and it doesn't solidify, you *CAN* reheat it very slowly and when it has re-liquified bring it up to the correct temperature. Of course, it is much easier to just do it correctly the first time.
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CathyMo
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 24, 2006 8:02 pm    Post subject: melt the sugar first Reply with quote

A few years ago, Sunset magazine had a good feature on candy making. One of their tips for making toffee and fudge is to make sure all the sugar is melted in the butter over a lower heat before you raise the temperature. They suggest one of the ways to make that easier is to use baker's sugar*, that extra-fine sugar you can buy in grocery stores. I've made the toffee with and without the baker's sugar, but always melting the sugar until there are no granules left, and my toffee has always come out perfect every time. It just melts faster with the baker's sugar.

(*Based on my cake baking experience, I buy only C&H pure cane sugar, because every cake baker I've heard from on the subject says the beet sugar doesn't perform the same. For example, my cake decorating instructor says every flower she's made with non-C&H sugar has shattered as it dried. C&H makes a baker's sugar that is easy to find in stores.)
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Jen321



Joined: 27 Dec 2006
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2006 3:07 pm    Post subject: What is the optimal humidity range? Reply with quote

When making toffee (or other candies), what is the optimal relative humidity range? I've heard that humidity will affect candy making and have been told by older relatives not to make candy on rainy days, etc. If you have links to articles describing what the weather/humidity should be, I would appreciate those.

Thanks!
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Audrey
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2006 12:21 am    Post subject: I'm sad, I couldn't make it work! :( Reply with quote

I was really excited about this recipe and quite hopeful everything would be fine...until the temp reached about 210degrees. As requested, here's the steps I took:

Elevation:3247
Humidity: 36%
Temperature: 76degrees

Electric stove: heated butter, water, salt, & sugar at level 2 (out of 10) - once completely melted, raised temp to level 4.5 (out of 10). Stirred constantly from that point forward. Mixture did not "double" as mentioned in recipe notes...possibly from too much stirring?? At about 210 degrees some of the butter separated from the more solid mixture. I continued stirring a bit longer hoping I could get it back together, but to no avail. I pulled the pan from the heat at about 220 or 230 degrees and poured onto waxed paper. But I was distracted by this "problem" and I forgot to add the vanilla! I tipped the cookie sheet so the butter would run to the edge and then drained it off. My nephews seem to think it's still edible (pure sugar? What do you think??!!) - I went ahead with the chocolate topping, but didn't waste the almonds.

Ingredients:
Morton's Salt
Great Value Unsalted Butter (Wal-Mart Brand)
Whatever sugar was in the big canister in my sister's kitchen

From reading another's post, maybe I cooked it at too low a temperature after I got it melted?
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1619
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2006 9:27 am    Post subject: Re: I'm sad, I couldn't make it work! :( Reply with quote

Audrey wrote:
I was really excited about this recipe and quite hopeful everything would be fine...until the temp reached about 210degrees. As requested, here's the steps I took:
... snip ...
From reading another's post, maybe I cooked it at too low a temperature after I got it melted?

I don't think it the temperature - I've successfully made this with the burners on low the whole time - just takes longer. This is going to be a shot in the dark - try adding more water. Let's say 1/4 cup water instead. I'm a little concerned that your butter didn't even foam up with the sugar before separating (the reason why you need a larger pot than you'd expect), so I think adding some water will help. Maybe all the water is boiling out before the sugar is reaching a high enough temperature - so we try adding a significant amount of water to the recipe. Hopefully, that will help. Let us know what happens.
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chocolategourmand



Joined: 04 Dec 2006
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 7:20 am    Post subject: Re: I'm sad, I couldn't make it work! :( Reply with quote

This has happened to my twice, once last year when using european butter and just last month with regular unsalted butter. Last month I made 4 double batches of toffee (it's a crowd pleaser). The first batch separated into oily mess as you described. I'm pretty confident the problem is with melting the butter too quickly, as Michael's instructions detail, or in my case unattended sans stirring. My next three batches were fine when I was more careful melting the butter. It was so tempting to just walk off with the butter on low and do other preparations.

If the butter melts quickly/unattended and you can see clear yellow mixed with the butterfat, I think you risk the nasty separation scenario you describe later on in heating. Once that happens it is a lost cause. I melt the butter first, very slowly, stirring frequently and once it is melted (but still opaque yellowish white) add the sugar and water and increase heat. Hope this helps.
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xochi
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 4:08 am    Post subject: tofee Reply with quote

What is the proper long term storage of english toffee and how long does it last under proper storage if you follow your recipe?
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1619
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 5:42 am    Post subject: Re: tofee Reply with quote

xochi wrote:
What is the proper long term storage of english toffee and how long does it last under proper storage if you follow your recipe?

I've found that the toffee keeps pretty well in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The toffee gets less crispy after about a week or so due to absorption of moisture but should still be fine to eat for a couple more weeks.
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scott123



Joined: 23 Dec 2006
Posts: 15
Location: Morristown, NJ

PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 8:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If this has already been discussed, my apologies, but sugar doesn't begin to brown until around 305 f., so the only thing browning in this recipe is the butter solids. This creates a fairly mild flavored very light colored toffee. I believe most commercial toffees, such as Heath, brown the sugar as well. Browning/caramelizing the sugar creates a far greater depth of flavor and a bold toffee taste/dark color. As you reach caramelizing sugar temps, though, the butter will burn, so... if you want a bolder flavored toffee, you'll need to brown the sugar, add water to bring the temp down, then add butter and take it back to the hard crack stage.

One other thing I noticed is the lack of a crystallization inhibitor. The butter helps a little bit to prevent the sugar from precipitating out/re-crystallizing, but if you want a better insurance policy, I'd add a little corn syrup. Corn syrup (or inverted sugar) is pretty standard as a crystallization inhibitor in hard candy.

And, lastly

Quote:
Stir the mixture constantly while heating over medium-high heat. The butter and sugar will bubble and foam as the water boils off. This can take several minutes because butter contains a decent amount of water. The volume of the mixture will increase dramatically at this point. At this point the temperature should be relatively constant at a few degrees above the boiling point of water.

Once the water has boiled off, the mixture will collapse and thicken. The temperature will also start to rise again.


Sorry to be such a stickler, but the water never 'boils off.' The boiling temperature of the water rises as the dissolved solids become more concentrated. Even at 300 (hard crack stage), there's still a trace amount of water in the toffee.
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toffeemaker
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2007 6:54 pm    Post subject: Learnings fr High Altitude for Make Benefit of Great Toffee! Reply with quote

Hi all--

I have made toffee as holiday gifts for more than 20 years, and as my list has grown, so has my toffee quantity. This year I made more than fifty pounds' worth.

In November of 2005 I moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico (altitude 7000 ft.) I wondered (feared!) it would affect toffeemaking, and indeed it did. I did much experimenting last year and this year to fathom the hows and whys, and here is my tuppenceworth:

Whoever said upthread that humidity affects toffeemaking is dead on. It does. Our air here is very dry and that's helpful.

I learned to make toffee by first melting the butter at any heat that wouldn't burn it, then turning it to medium-low and stirring in the butter and cold water. My family recipe included a tablespoon and a half of water at sea level, for the quantities above (cup of water, cup of sugar.) Some years back I switched to double batches (2 cups of each,) which made the water quantity 3 tbsp.

After wasting a couple of pounds of butter and sugar last year, I altered the water content to a little over 2/3 of a cup. That gave me non-separating toffee 75% of the time, the other 25% of the time I had to add more water when it started separating, and re-cook the batch (sometimes twice!) However, I noticed no difference in texture or taste in those batches. So I thought I had the high altitude problem licked.

This year I stocked up on butter when the local co-op was having a sale on Plugra european-style butter. (Normally I go to Costco and buy the 4 1-lb. salted butter solids packs.)

I went through five pounds of butter and sugar before I finally twigged to why the toffee wouldn't toff: "European-style" butters are made by a different process than ordinary pasteurized American butter. It won't work. Period. Fermented butter won't toff, at least not in high altitudes. Back to plain ol' cheap butter.

High altitude requires much more attention to small details of when and how much to stir, where to set the heat at the different stages of toffeemaking, and judging done-ness. I make a carmelized-sugar version of toffee which is (I think) a bit more demanding than the lighter version discussed here, and that may have something to do with it. After 20 years I'm pretty good at judging by feel, smell, and look, which is a good thing because when I tried a candy thermometer last year I ended up with badly burnt toffee (again, I think because of the altitude.)

Summary:

Melt butter
Turn to med-low/low heat, add sugar and water, stir slowly to blend
As it starts foaming, stir regularly and turn the heat up a notch
As the foam subsides to bubbly thick syrup, turn the heat up another notch (heat should now be about med/med-high)
Stir gently, occasionally, as the mixture starts to brown and no crystals are left
As the mixture reaches a light-brown color, begin constant, gentle stirring. It will still feel quite "thick" as you stir.
Steam will begin to puff as larger bubbles in the mixture pop, keep stirring
The mixture will reach a mid-brown, caramel color, and the steam will have a little smoke in it. The burn-ey, toffee-ey smell will become very noticeable. The mixture will feel less thick and more liquid.
Turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla and (if using) diced almonds
Turn it out into a nonstick baking sheet and spread
Sprinkle chocolate over top
When chocolate is melted, spread to cover
Sprinkle with powdered or fine-chopped almonds
Refrigerate for an hour or so
Give the baking sheet a slight twist to "pop" the toffee loose
Break into (approx.) 3-4 cm. irregular pieces
Store in a zipper plastic bag (squeeze out air before sealing) in the refrigerator
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scott123



Joined: 23 Dec 2006
Posts: 15
Location: Morristown, NJ

PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2007 1:02 am    Post subject: Re: Learnings fr High Altitude for Make Benefit of Great Tof Reply with quote

toffeemaker wrote:
After wasting a couple of pounds of butter and sugar last year, I altered the water content to a little over 2/3 of a cup.


The amount of water you begin with is of little importance for this type of application. Starting with 1/4 cup will give you the same results as starting with 10 cups. The only difference is that the 10 cup version will take a lot longer to make, as it will take longer to reduce the level of moisture in the syrup to the amount necessary for hard candy.

toffeemaker wrote:
I make a carmelized-sugar version of toffee which is (I think) a bit more demanding than the lighter version discussed here, and that may have something to do with it.


Sugar only begins to caramelize at around 305, but to achieve good color, you need to go considerably higher than that. If you have butter/butter solids in the solution, they'll burn long before your sugar is caramelized. It sounds like you're happy with the recipe you've got, but if you want a nice deep dark colored toffee without burning the butter, I highly recommend a two stage processs- caramelizing the sugar, adding water to bring the temp down and then adding the butter and browning it.
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