Saturday, November 14, 2009

SMS Butter Toffee Crunch

Kaitlin over at Kait's Plate (cute name!) selected Butter Toffee Crunch for this week's Sweet Melissa Sundays recipe. I love toffee and was looking forward to making this recipe. Warning, the picture above is proof positive that appearances can be deceiving. While the toffee looks pretty good, the layer of milk chocolate and generous crunch of almonds could not mask the bitter flavor of scorched sugar.

I decided to quarter the recipe and everything was coming together nicely. However, the boiling sugar mixture quickly went from this beautiful caramel:

To this bubbling black lava:

A new candy thermometer is on my Christmas list and I blamed this disaster on the cheap, faulty one I was using. Oh, by the way, sugar cooked to this temperature also results in billowing smoke that fills your home with an a acrid smell that burns your eyes. This is kind of handy since you can blame the tears you are shedding on the smoke and not the failed recipe!

After the smoke cleared, I went out and purchased a new candy thermometer determined to give it another shot. Once again, things were progressing nicely (note the shiny new thermometer):

Now, the recipe calls for temperature of 290 degrees and to watch it carefully after it reaches 280 degrees to prevent scorching. Over on the SMS blogroll, several of my fellow bakers noted that this mixture heats up very quickly so I was keeping a watchful eye on it and never walked more than a couple of feet away. At 250 degrees, I noticed it was starting to darken and smell every so slightly scorched. I quickly pulled it off the heat and proceeded to pour it out and finish the candy.
Now in my heart, I knew it was too far gone but being an optimist, thought that the burnt flavor might mellow during the hardening process. Didn't happen.

I'm glad I tried this recipe and learned 1) to follow my instincts (and my dog-like smelling) and disregard recipe instructions if necessary to save a dish and, 2) to replace the batteries in my smoke detectors.
Thanks for hosting this week Kaitlin. You can find the recipe at her blog, here. Be sure to check out the other SMS bakers !
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  1. Oh my goodness that really looks burnt! Sorry you had the mishap but great idea getting a new candy thermometer! My candy therm. does not work well. I was so worried I would burn it I took it off much to early and ended up with a chewy version of toffee rather then a crunchy one. It still turned out good and we have enjoyed it.

  2. Oh my lord.... well... i give you props for trying twice. I would have have tried it one time and gave up. Good job!

  3. You poor thing! Kudos to you for giving it a second shot after the first attempt gave you so much trouble. I probably would have gotten frustrated and given up. Hopefully you can try again another time, follow your instincts & get a good result :) My tester really enjoyed the toffee so it may be worth the effort.

  4. Wow! I am not sure I would have tried again after the first disaster! Yours does look good in the picture. :)

  5. This came to temperature so quickly. I am not sure I would have tried again!! We loved this, it was so worth the effort!

  6. Wow - that's some seriously impressive bunrt sugar! I have no idea how you managed to get that out of the pan. I used white sugar as I've heard that the impurities in brown means it burns easily - not the same flavour though...

  7. Ha! Yes, the tears were from the smoke, not the burned toffee. This was a really tough recipe, I made it three times. I'm impressed with your candy-making shots, I am too nervous to ever grab the camera.

  8. Hi Candace!

    How are you? Sorry it's been so long since I've stopped by and said hello- things have been kind of crazy, but I have really missed talking with you each week after SMS postings. I hope you're doing well and would love to hear from you soon.

    I'm so sorry your toffee didn't turn out as expected, but if it makes you feel any better, you are NOT alone. My first batch was an absolute disaster, and I ended up with 3 lbs of chocolate/almond covered crystallized sugar. I didn't want to end my candy making experience on a bad note, so I did some research, found another recipe, and gave it a go. Thankfully it came out fabulous! If you have a chance, check out my post (which includes the other recipe) along with a whole list of tips and tricks that will help ensure success. Let me know if you decide to give it another shot!

    I hope you're doing well and having a fabulous start to your week. Can't wait to talk to you again soon :)


  9. well, at least you didn't try to substitute a meat thermometer for a candy thermometer, as I did ;)

  10. Oh no, it must have been so disheartening to see your 'lava,' and then have it not work out the second time either. I wish I knew why the temperature worked for some and not others; it would save everyone a lot of heartache! Thank you for baking with me.


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