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Kim Shook

Is my baking soda the culprit or the heat?

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I made my peanut brittle today and wasn't completely satisfied with the texture.  This is todays:

brittle3.jpg.dc1bade38ec904660715fe714e7160f1.jpg

 

This is last year's:

brittle2.jpg.4adcf3cc0c2139b3331f5bdb641b44eb.jpg

 

I hope you can see the difference in the candy itself.  Last year it was foamy and therefore softer and chewier.  This year is more like hard candy - no foam.  I like foam and the texture that it brings to the candy.  It tastes just fine, but is very hard.  Here's the recipe.  So, my question is: do I have bad baking soda or did I let it get too hot?  When I put the baking soda in, it foamed up like always.  And I don't have a candy thermometer - I just used my infrared.  Like I've always done.  Do I need to go get a candy thermometer?  I have an instant read, but have discovered over the years that it is kind of useless with things like this that harden on the business end.  Thank you all!

 

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I think it is the temp. If you got the chemical rection that should make the soda safe. That is what he liked about the Sees brittle - the"airiness" - and this a man with NO palate. I just used a candy thermometer. Course I did it monthly so had more of a neural memory thing going on.


Edited by heidih (log)
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58 minutes ago, heidih said:

I think it is the temp. If you got the chemical rection that should make the soda safe. That is what he liked about the Sees brittle - the"airiness" - and this a man with NO palate. I just used a candy thermometer. Course I did it monthly so had more of a neural memory thing going on.

 

That makes perfect sense.  I guess it's time to use my Bed, Bath & Beyond coupon. 😁

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For what it's worth, in my personal experience, I've never had a IR thermometer give me an accurate reading on a boiling syrup. I've tried on many occasions, but it's just not reliable. Use a probe thermometer for sure when temping a sugar syrup, Cooper Atkins are my personal favorite, very quick reading. Also, when using a probe, be careful not to let it touch the bottom of the pot. And just a side question, would the pan you made the brittle in have been the same as last year? I just ask because there seems to be a pretty dramatic difference in color. 

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I imagine the darkness is time & temp related.

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You say it foamed up as always, but the top pic doesn't seem to have any bubbles ... so odd, where would the bubbles have gone?  Did you spread or handle it more than usual and pop them all?  Any chance you might have accidentally used baking powder instead?  (I have no idea how that would affect this type of candy, just a thought).

 

Yes, get a candy thermometer.  The color doesn't look too dark to me, just like regular, non-foamy English Toffee.

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On 12/3/2019 at 5:33 PM, minas6907 said:

For what it's worth, in my personal experience, I've never had a IR thermometer give me an accurate reading on a boiling syrup. I've tried on many occasions, but it's just not reliable. Use a probe thermometer for sure when temping a sugar syrup, Cooper Atkins are my personal favorite, very quick reading. Also, when using a probe, be careful not to let it touch the bottom of the pot. And just a side question, would the pan you made the brittle in have been the same as last year? I just ask because there seems to be a pretty dramatic difference in color. 

Not sure about which pan I used last year, but it was probably the same based on the size.  When I got to Amazon to look at the Cooper Atkins thermometers, I am getting lots and lots of results.  Could you possibly link to the one that your would recommend?  Thank you!

 

On 12/3/2019 at 8:24 PM, pastrygirl said:

You say it foamed up as always, but the top pic doesn't seem to have any bubbles ... so odd, where would the bubbles have gone?  Did you spread or handle it more than usual and pop them all?  Any chance you might have accidentally used baking powder instead?  (I have no idea how that would affect this type of candy, just a thought).

 

Yes, get a candy thermometer.  The color doesn't look too dark to me, just like regular, non-foamy English Toffee.

I got a candy thermometer yesterday.  This candy tastes good, so I won't bother trying to make again, but I still have my honeycomb-type candy to make and I'll use it for that.

 

I have no idea where those damn bubbles went.  😄  I didn't spread it out or handle it at all.  Just poured (more like nudged) onto a baking sheet and put on a cooling rack.  And I definitely used baking soda - the jar is still on the island.  

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I've been reading interestedly as I'm getting ready to make a batch of cashew brittle and haven't done it in a while.  I tend to agree that the temp is likely to be the issue as the color and appearance of the brittle is similar to what I get with a Peanut Brittle recipe from James Beard's American cookery.  It is similar to your recipe from Craig's Aunt in the composition of ingredients and the fact that it uses raw nuts that get toasted in the syrup. 

What's different is that the Beard recipe adds the baking soda @ 315°F vs the 290 in your recipe.  

He also adds salt and vanilla at 315°F but I don't see that making a difference.  

After pouring, Beard recipe brittle-to-be  gets spread out quickly, then pulled and turned (wearing greased garden gloves) so it's wafer thin between the peanuts or cashews.  The result is about the color of your brittle from this year, although, of course, it's much thinner because of being stretched and pulled.  It certainly foams up dramatically but after spreading and pulling, I see little tiny bubbles throughout, but it's not a foamy looking candy.

 

On 12/3/2019 at 5:24 PM, pastrygirl said:

You say it foamed up as always, but the top pic doesn't seem to have any bubbles ... so odd, where would the bubbles have gone?

I don't know either but my first guess was that at lower temps, the sugar mixture is thick enough to trap more bubbles but when heated to a higher temp, it's become thin enough that the gas escapes more easily.   But, considering PV=nRT (Ideal Gas Law) you can also imagine that when the temp goes up, the volume of the trapped gas bubbles will also increase so they are likely pushing themselves right out of the candy at some point, whether it's thinner or not. 

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Did it foam up last year - you gave it a few stirs and you poured it out? Did you cook it  maybe to a softer crack stage last year? It will result in a much chewier (cheewwwy) brittle). How much you mixed in your baking sofa may be the secret to last year’s brittle ... 

 

 


I have an EpiPen ... my friend gave it to me when he was dying ... it seemed very important to him that I have it ... 

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11 hours ago, Kim Shook said:

When I got to Amazon to look at the Cooper Atkins thermometers, I am getting lots and lots of results.  Could you possibly link to the one that your would recommend?  Thank you!

Absolutely! The following is the one I use for work (hospital kitchen)

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000LDI8PK/ref=cm_sw_r_sms_apa_i_WRE6DbGRPTPEX

 

And this second one is my go to for any sugar projects

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B009Z27WIC/ref=cm_sw_r_sms_apa_i_HTE6DbJD68AG3

 

The latter has a longer probe that I find helpful for a deep pot. I've gone through alot of thermometers, I've settled on these, they are very reliable for everyday use,l and give a quick read. But they are sensitive, that why I say don't touch the bottom of the pot, it'll give you a higher reading. Otherwise, I have a thermoworks type k thermocouple, but I feel like I use that less and less 

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9 hours ago, minas6907 said:

Absolutely! The following is the one I use for work (hospital kitchen)

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000LDI8PK/ref=cm_sw_r_sms_apa_i_WRE6DbGRPTPEX

 

And this second one is my go to for any sugar projects

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B009Z27WIC/ref=cm_sw_r_sms_apa_i_HTE6DbJD68AG3

 

The latter has a longer probe that I find helpful for a deep pot. I've gone through alot of thermometers, I've settled on these, they are very reliable for everyday use,l and give a quick read. But they are sensitive, that why I say don't touch the bottom of the pot, it'll give you a higher reading. Otherwise, I have a thermoworks type k thermocouple, but I feel like I use that less and less 

Thank you so much!  I do have a question, though.  One thing that made me stop using my thermapen when cooking sweet stuff like this is that after a certain temperature a coating of the syrup gets on the probe and immediately solidifies.  If I am temping every few minutes, I have time to soak this coating off in water.  But if I am "close" and need to temp again in a short time, I don't have the time to soak off the coating.  What is your solution to this?  Thanks again!!!

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3 hours ago, Kim Shook said:

Thank you so much!  I do have a question, though.  One thing that made me stop using my thermapen when cooking sweet stuff like this is that after a certain temperature a coating of the syrup gets on the probe and immediately solidifies.  If I am temping every few minutes, I have time to soak this coating off in water.  But if I am "close" and need to temp again in a short time, I don't have the time to soak off the coating.  What is your solution to this?  Thanks again!!!

 

Leave the probe in the syrup.

 

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4 hours ago, Kim Shook said:

Thank you so much!  I do have a question, though.  One thing that made me stop using my thermapen when cooking sweet stuff like this is that after a certain temperature a coating of the syrup gets on the probe and immediately solidifies.  If I am temping every few minutes, I have time to soak this coating off in water.  But if I am "close" and need to temp again in a short time, I don't have the time to soak off the coating.  What is your solution to this?  Thanks again!!!

 

A thin coating (and once you're up over 250, the coating will be pretty thin) shouldn't really cause that much trouble as it dissolves back into the hot sugar pretty quickly once you put it back in the pan.  It will slow down your response a tiny bit but it shouldn't be a huge issue.  

 

I usually do as @JoNorvelleWalker suggests and use a probe that can clip on to the side of the pan.  I used to use an old school candy thermometer, which was not accurate but I knew that it read ~ 15 degrees low so it was OK.  Now, I use a probe that plugs into my ThermoWorks Dot.   

 

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2 hours ago, blue_dolphin said:

 

A thin coating (and once you're up over 250, the coating will be pretty thin) shouldn't really cause that much trouble as it dissolves back into the hot sugar pretty quickly once you put it back in the pan.  It will slow down your response a tiny bit but it shouldn't be a huge issue.  

 

I usually do as @JoNorvelleWalker suggests and use a probe that can clip on to the side of the pan.  I used to use an old school candy thermometer, which was not accurate but I knew that it read ~ 15 degrees low so it was OK.  Now, I use a probe that plugs into my ThermoWorks Dot.   

 

 

So, I'm thinking that I could use a combination of my infared and thermapen - infared until I'm 'close' and the Thermapen after that?   And I didn't really need the candy/frying thermometer I just bought at BB&B?  😄

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My 2 cents: You don't need a thermometer for peanut brittle. You can go by sight and smell. I look for the boiling bubbles to be straw colored. If I used a thermometer, it would be the thermapen. You simply wipe the probe with a cloth towel between tests, if you are worried about it. My recipe is similar, but calls for butter, vanilla and salt. Once temp is reached, I remove from heat and stir in butter. vanilla and salt. This causes it to steam briefly. Then I add soda. It foams up almost to the top of the pot. Pour out and after a minute, I stretch to make it thin.

5312FBB1-AE40-4B10-B842-BFAF31DE4D67.thumb.jpeg.b0bb395fbdb38f3c93d87438ce8c694a.jpeg


Edited by Chocolot (log)
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Ruth Kendrick

Chocolot
Artisan Chocolates and Toffees
www.chocolot.com

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15 hours ago, Kim Shook said:

If I am temping every few minutes, I have time to soak this coating off in water.  But if I am "close" and need to temp again in a short time, I don't have the time to soak off the coating.  What is your solution to this? 

My solution is no different then what's mentioned above, I temp the item, wipe as cleanly as I can on a paper towel, and put the thermometer in water. Whatever remains on the probe dissolves pretty quickly. I should mention that most of the boiling I do is for hard candy, so after a while I've gotten into the habit of just temping once to make sure it doesn't go too far, I can tell by the bubble size when I'm nearing the end. I know we all have our preferences, but I was never a fan of clipping a thermometer to the side of the pan. For me, it gets in the way of washing down the sugar crystals for pulled sugar, and impedes stirring for items like taffy or caramel. 

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