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Can This Candy be Saved


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I'll preface this by saying I'm not a novice candy maker and fairly competent with it. I've been making Christmas candy for 40+ years (yes, I really did start making it when I was very young :laugh: ) and use recipes that are nearly foolproof and have been in the family for a very long time. Only today, one of them wasn't quite as foolproof as usual and now I'm left to try and figure out what went wrong. In fact, I can't remember a time when this recipe didn't work. So candymakers of eGullet I'm turning to all of you for help.

The recipe is for an Almond Toffee Crunch candy, which is essentially Almond Rocha. Ingredients are easy - butter, sugar, corn syrup and water, boiled, stirring occasionally until it reaches 300* at which time coarsely chopped almonds are stirred in and the mixture poured into an ungreased pan. The minute I stirred the nuts in I knew there was a problem. The mixture tried to separate and had visible oil streaks in it. When I tried to spread it in the pan the texture became crumbly, although it is hardening up.

I will admit to being on automatic pilot while making this batch. I'll also admit I thought the color was a little too pale when the candy thermometer hit 300* but I proceeded anyway even though my instinct was telling me it needed more time. I've eliminated ingredient measurement errors as I was pretty meticulous about measuring. I'm guessing I may a problem with my candy thermometer, even though it's been accurate in the past, I'm wondering if the toffee really ever reached the hard crack stage. My other suspect is too much humidity in the air. It rained here yesterday, today is overcast and tomorrow heavy rain is predicted. I have made the recipe during periods of wet weather but not very frequently.

Any other suggestions as to what may have gone wrong? Also, any potential for salvaging this batch? Melt it back down and recook? SOL, toss it and try again?

Thanks for the help

Edited by kalypso (log)
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Sounds to me like you had crystallization occur when you didn't want it. I've had this problem before making brittles. Sometimes just stirring a bit too much, or too frequently, and not giving it the love, patience and attention it needs will cause a hard sugar candy to crystallize on you. From what you say about it turning crumbly, it can be nothing else but crystallization occurring. When this happens the emulsion breaks, though not always, and the fat separates out. Basically, you turned your toffee into a hard version of fudge, but without the fat being properly emulsified.

Theoretically you could save it by adding water and getting all the sugar to dissolve over low heat, then strain out the almonds and add new ones at the end (because the old one will get soggy first from all the water then burnt from cooking it all the way up to 300 again to get all the water out), but then you also have to worry about the emulsion again. Honestly, I would say don't bother-I say this from experience because i have tried this method with macadamia brittle, and it was not pretty. :-)

Also, yes, don't make candy on a rainy or humid day. You'll have a very hard time ever getting it to hard crack stage and if it's raining out it will instantly begin to absorb water from the atmosphere once poured to set and will turn sticky faster than a New York minute.

Edited by Marmalade (log)

Jeffrey Stern

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Marmalade seems to have hit the nail on the head with the crystallization. I know that the similar recipe that I use directs you to make sure all the crystals on the side of the pan are dissolved - either by putting the lid on to steam them off, or washing down with a wet brush. I must confess to never doing that - I usually find that when the toffee bubbles up sufficiently any crystals on the side get melted.

I'd probably not try to rescue this batch - unless simply to prove you can.

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Thank you all for your quick responses. Crystalization did cross my mind, but since that's not ever been an issue with this recipe I didn't really give it a lot of thought. But, I think you all are right, that does seem to be the probable cause.

I think this batch now has a date with the trash can and I've got a date try again on day with better weather.

Edited by kalypso (log)
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Like you, I'd hate to just throw it out. Would it be suitable as a topping (or as an inclusion) for ice cream?

John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

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It never really set up all the way. We tried some of it to see if there was something else we could do with it. Flavor was right on the money but the texture was pretty sandy, not sure it would hold up in or even on ice cream. Not sure what we're going to do with it at the moment.

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grind it up and incorporate it into a streusel or a cinnamon bun topping? with the cinnamon/sticky buns, you can grind up your toffee and put it into the bottom of the pan and then the dough on top...bake and it will all melt and the butter will absorb into the dough...i think that takes care of both of the problems with the batch and it will still taste good.

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Must have been some bad mojo going around yesterday afternoon. I made that same recipe, and for the first time, the butter and sugar separated. Mine set up, but I must have taken a quarter of a cup of butter off the cookie sheet

About crystalization--I have a tried and true peanut brittle recipe from my Aunt. She taught me to put a lid on the boiling syrup for the first couple minutes to allow the steam to dissolve any sugar crystals. I forgot that step the last time I made the peanut brittle, and sure enough, the candy seized on me.

I added a little bit of water and got it to come back together, but the candy was not up to my usual standards.

sparrowgrass
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Yup, I tried butter mints just a day or two ago that crystallized on me too. And I *did* wash down the sides of the pan, but I must have missed a rogue crystal or two.

Are unmelted sugar crystals the only thing that can cause crystallization? Not flavorings or anything like that? I think my problem was scraping the bottom of the pan where a large hunk of gunk seemed to have collected. I'm not sure how it collected there since I stirred the whole time, but it was there and I think the culprit.

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Somewhat different candy problem here. I made a lot of lollipops for a local children's party and some of them were not acceptable to me, although there was nothing amiss with the 'candy' aspect of them. Plus the bits that dropped here and there as I poured the lollies.

What can I do with plain hard candy? Grind it up and use it where? It's only sugar and corn syrup and coloring and flavoring (and bit of decor in some cases). Or should I just chuck it?

Also last week I chopped up some pecan brittle which was not a great success and used it in a ganache. The 'brittle' part of it pretty much disappeared in the ganache... I made a cream ganache...should have used a butter ganache, right? We bravely struggled along and ate it anyway. Good husband! :wub:

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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Somewhat different candy problem here.  I made a lot of lollipops for a local children's party and some of them were not acceptable to me, although there was nothing amiss with the 'candy' aspect of them.  Plus the bits that dropped here and there as I poured the lollies.

What can I do with plain hard candy?  Grind it up and use it where?  It's only sugar and corn syrup and coloring and flavoring (and bit of decor in some cases).  Or should I just chuck it?

Well, there are 'stained glass' cookies -- make rolled-out cookies, such as sugar cookies. Put the cut-out cookies on the well-greased!! baking sheet and use a smaller cutter to cut one or more shapes out of the center of each cookie. Fill holes with crushed hard candy; bake.

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Another use for the hard candy - bash it up, use it in bark.

Re the butter mints that crystallized. They contain lots of sugar and much less glucose to prevent crystallization - they are just itching to crystallize - working them too much will cause it to happen. I've found them very challenging to make without it happening.

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I too am having trouble with my toffee. Out of 7 batches I've made only 4 have turned out. The other 3 crystlized on me. I realize now how when and when not to stir and also humidity in the air yes it does make a difference. So let's hope everyone making toffee this year ends up with some good batches!! :wink:

Merry Christmas!

Rena

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Woo Hoo!! I got 2 double batches of toffee made yesterday in spite of 60%+ humidity :raz: They probably won't be the best batches I've ever made but they turned out just like they were supposed to and everyone is happy again.

Thanks to everyone who responded.

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