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Q&A: Confectionery 101


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I'm going to work on a new demo for almond butter crunch and sponge toffee over the next week or two.

I can't wait for this demo, Kerry. You have no idea how much I have learned from the demos you've done thus far. Thank you so much.

English toffee I have successfully made twice recently, but one detail bothers me: I sprinkled Nestle semisweet chocolate chips oon top the of the still-hot toffee, let the chocolate melt, spread the chocolate evenly, pressed in toasted chopped pecans, and left the toffee and chocolate to set, BUT the chocolate never hardened except in the fridge and would not stay hard out of the fridge. A call to Nestle's consumer line got me the explanation that their chocolate chips, once melted, may never harden again at warmer room temperatures. I asked whether to use some other type of chocolate but probably because Nestle doesn't sell some other type for coating candy, the answer was unresponsive. Kerry, I'll be interested to see what type of chocolate you recommend for coating the toffee.

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I'm going to work on a new demo for almond butter crunch and sponge toffee over the next week or two.

I can't wait for this demo, Kerry. You have no idea how much I have learned from the demos you've done thus far. Thank you so much.

English toffee I have successfully made twice recently, but one detail bothers me: I sprinkled Nestle semisweet chocolate chips oon top the of the still-hot toffee, let the chocolate melt, spread the chocolate evenly, pressed in toasted chopped pecans, and left the toffee and chocolate to set, BUT the chocolate never hardened except in the fridge and would not stay hard out of the fridge. A call to Nestle's consumer line got me the explanation that their chocolate chips, once melted, may never harden again at warmer room temperatures. I asked whether to use some other type of chocolate but probably because Nestle doesn't sell some other type for coating candy, the answer was unresponsive. Kerry, I'll be interested to see what type of chocolate you recommend for coating the toffee.

Actually when I make things that require the chocolate on top of the candy, I temper the chocolate in order to insure that it hardens at room temperature and doesn't get cloudy or streaky. My demo of tempering milk chocolate is here. That is tempering in a bowl, for these recipes you only need to temper a small amount of chocolate, so you could do that in a small measuring cup, or on a marble slab.

Using confectionary coating (those discs they sell in the bulk food store) means you don't have to temper, because they replace the cocoa butter with other fats that have a stable crystalline structure at room temperature. Trouble with those is the taste in my view. I like the real chocolate, and for the almond butter crunch, the more bittersweet the better.

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I'm going to work on a new demo for almond butter crunch and sponge toffee over the next week or two.

Oh, Kerry, thank you! I look forward to this with great anticipation. I have to admit I have never tried sponge toffee, so this will be wonderful.

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I'm going to work on a new demo for almond butter crunch and sponge toffee over the next week or two.

I can't wait for this demo, Kerry. You have no idea how much I have learned from the demos you've done thus far. Thank you so much.

English toffee I have successfully made twice recently, but one detail bothers me: I sprinkled Nestle semisweet chocolate chips oon top the of the still-hot toffee, let the chocolate melt, spread the chocolate evenly, pressed in toasted chopped pecans, and left the toffee and chocolate to set, BUT the chocolate never hardened except in the fridge and would not stay hard out of the fridge. A call to Nestle's consumer line got me the explanation that their chocolate chips, once melted, may never harden again at warmer room temperatures. I asked whether to use some other type of chocolate but probably because Nestle doesn't sell some other type for coating candy, the answer was unresponsive. Kerry, I'll be interested to see what type of chocolate you recommend for coating the toffee.

Actually when I make things that require the chocolate on top of the candy, I temper the chocolate in order to insure that it hardens at room temperature and doesn't get cloudy or streaky. My demo of tempering milk chocolate is here. That is tempering in a bowl, for these recipes you only need to temper a small amount of chocolate, so you could do that in a small measuring cup, or on a marble slab.

Using confectionary coating (those discs they sell in the bulk food store) means you don't have to temper, because they replace the cocoa butter with other fats that have a stable crystalline structure at room temperature. Trouble with those is the taste in my view. I like the real chocolate, and for the almond butter crunch, the more bittersweet the better.

Thank you, Kerry. I am going to try tempering chocolate so my English toffee can be given as gifts instead of being fridge-bound. Tempering chocolate is one of those mysterious things I had read about but never thought I would have to do!

Your demos are terrific, Kerry. Thank you so much!

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WOW! More candy! I am awfully glad my family don't read this board or they would be all over me to try the sponge toffee. I have not eaten it or even seen it in years but my memory tells me that the stuff I used to know was in uneven large hunks rather than a slab. Would it still work if you poured it into a high frame or maybe a parchment-lined loaf pan? Or is my memory all wrong and it should be a thin slab?

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

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WOW!  More candy!  I am awfully glad my family don't read this board or they would be all over me to try the sponge toffee.  I have not eaten it or even seen it in years but my memory tells me that the stuff I used to know was in uneven large hunks rather than a slab.  Would it still work if you poured it into a high frame or maybe a parchment-lined loaf pan?  Or is my memory all wrong and it should be a thin slab?

I've never tried pouring it into a frame, but there is no reason you couldn't put it on oiled caramel rulers or a frame.

Now to get it into nice rectangles (ie for homemade Cadbury Crunchie bar) might prove a bit more of a challenge. I wonder if cutting with an electric carving knife might work (or perhaps I could try my husband's band saw).

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Kerry thank you for doing this new demo. I am ashamed to say that I haven't tried your recipe yet, but was curious about something. A friend of mine just uses butter and sugar for the toffee part. Would you know what the difference between that and your recipe would be in texture and mouth feel?

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Kerry thank you for doing this new demo. I am ashamed to say that I haven't tried your recipe yet, but was curious about something. A friend of mine just uses butter and sugar for the toffee part. Would you know what the difference between that and your recipe would be in texture and mouth feel?

I have that recipe too, the texture probably isn't too different. You have to boil off all the additonal water that the glucose and water add before it reaches temperature. The glucose and water just make it easier to avoid clumps and burning when melting the sugar initally.

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Im going to make the soft caramels tonight. But I have a silly question about using the metric measures.

For the liquids, your recipe calls for weights for the water and cream. I know one gram of water == 1 ml of water. I can measure that out easily in a liquid measure (all the ones I have include metric markings). But what about the cream? Is pouring out 500 ml the same as weighing 500 grams? I DO have a digital scale that can easily be switched to metric, so weighing is a non-issue if that's what I ought to do. I'm just mostly curious if it would make a difference. (weigh on scale vs. using liquid measure)

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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:rolleyes:

Kerry thank you for doing this new demo. I am ashamed to say that I haven't tried your recipe yet, but was curious about something. A friend of mine just uses butter and sugar for the toffee part. Would you know what the difference between that and your recipe would be in texture and mouth feel?

I have that recipe too, the texture probably isn't too different. You have to boil off all the additonal water that the glucose and water add before it reaches temperature. The glucose and water just make it easier to avoid clumps and burning when melting the sugar initally.

Thanks Kerry! :rolleyes:

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Im going to make the soft caramels tonight.    But I have a silly question about using the metric measures.

For the liquids, your recipe calls for weights for the water and cream.  I know one gram of water == 1 ml of water.  I can measure that out easily in a liquid measure (all the ones I have include metric markings).  But what about the cream?  Is pouring out 500 ml the same as weighing 500 grams?  I DO have a digital scale that can easily be switched to metric, so weighing is a non-issue if that's what I ought to do.  I'm just mostly curious if it would make a difference. (weigh on scale vs. using liquid measure)

I actually do weigh the cream but it usually works out that 500 ml weighs about 500 grams. I think the recipe would be forgiving enough if you used either.

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I made the soft, chewy caramels Monday night. It went pretty well. I was out of vanilla. Didn't realize that until I went to get it out of the cupboard and it was all gone.

When I work with sugar (or pretty much any sort of liquid on my stove top), everything seems to always take longer than what recipes say. I guess I'm never use enough heat. Anyway, I eventually hit the temperature for the sugar, corn syrup and water, then added the butter, honey and then cream. That mixture eventually got to the right temp. It wasn't as dark as I was expecting. I did stir it every now and then, but I either did it to much or had poor technique. I wound up scraping up some of the darker bits on the bottom of the pot. The caramel is sort of flecked with little brown bits.

I poured it out into a metal 8x8 (inches) pan. let it sit over night, then removed it from the pan (a real PITA. I should have lined it with parchment. I can see how the bars ontop of a Silpat would be much, much easier). Then I cut it up into little squares and wrapped them. I wasn't able to find cellophane sheets at the hobby store, but they had sheets of foil. So, that's what I used.

I'm glad this class was posted. Will you do more? I'm interested in making some hard candies, lolipops, etc.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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I made the soft, chewy caramels Monday night.  It went pretty well.    I was out of vanilla.  Didn't realize that until I went to get it out of the cupboard and it was all gone.

When I work with sugar (or pretty much any sort of liquid on my stove top), everything seems to always take longer than what recipes say.  I guess I'm never use enough heat.  Anyway, I eventually hit the temperature for the sugar, corn syrup and water, then added the  butter, honey and then cream. That mixture eventually got to the right temp.  It wasn't as dark as I was expecting.  I did stir it every now and then, but I either did it to much or had poor technique.  I wound up scraping up some of the darker bits on the bottom of the pot.  The caramel is sort of flecked with little brown bits.

I poured it out into a metal 8x8 (inches) pan.  let it sit over night, then removed it from the pan (a real PITA. I should have lined it with parchment.  I can see how the bars ontop of a Silpat would be much, much easier).  Then I cut it up into little squares and wrapped them.  I wasn't able to find cellophane sheets at the hobby store, but they had sheets of foil.  So, that's what I used.

I'm glad this class was posted.  Will you do more? I'm interested in making some hard candies, lolipops, etc.

I hope you can get the caramel off the foil. It might just stick. I'd probably use parchment if I had no cello. Wrapping caramels is a royal pain.

How heavy is your pot. I often find that the dark stuck bits are more likely if your pot is not really heavy. In this case you might want to stir more to prevent any sticking.

Other classes may be possible in the future. I'll talk to the boss. Hard candy would be interesting.

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I made the soft, chewy caramels Monday night.  It went pretty well.    I was out of vanilla.  Didn't realize that until I went to get it out of the cupboard and it was all gone.

When I work with sugar (or pretty much any sort of liquid on my stove top), everything seems to always take longer than what recipes say.   I guess I'm never use enough heat.   Anyway, I eventually hit the temperature for the sugar, corn syrup and water, then added the  butter, honey and then cream. That mixture eventually got to the right temp.  It wasn't as dark as I was expecting.   I did stir it every now and then, but I either did it to much or had poor technique.  I wound up scraping up some of the darker bits on the bottom of the pot.  The caramel is sort of flecked with little brown bits.

I poured it out into a metal 8x8 (inches) pan.  let it sit over night, then removed it from the pan (a real PITA. I should have lined it with parchment.  I can see how the bars ontop of a Silpat would be much, much easier).  Then I cut it up into little squares and wrapped them.  I wasn't able to find cellophane sheets at the hobby store, but they had sheets of foil.  So, that's what I used.

I'm glad this class was posted.  Will you do more? I'm interested in making some hard candies, lolipops, etc.

I hope you can get the caramel off the foil. It might just stick. I'd probably use parchment if I had no cello. Wrapping caramels is a royal pain.

How heavy is your pot. I often find that the dark stuck bits are more likely if your pot is not really heavy. In this case you might want to stir more to prevent any sticking.

Other classes may be possible in the future. I'll talk to the boss. Hard candy would be interesting.

Eeeek! I hope so too. I didn't even think of that. The only cellophane the store had were bags of various sizes.

The pot I used was a 7 qt. Le Creuset. Maybe I did go too high on the heat. It was just taking so long to get the temp up, I slowly started to crank it up a bit.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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the soft caramels were a big hit at this weekend's party. I guess due to the way they were packed and the course of time, they started to spread and flatten out. They didn't look as pretty as they did originally (not that they were that pretty all wrapped up to begin wtih), and some of them oozed out of the wrappers, but they still tasted great and there were no major issues with them sticking to the foil.

About the spreading.. These are a little softer than the commerical caramels I have had in the past. (i.e. Kraft caramels). Mt sugar science isn't very strong, but I think the hardness softness has pretty much everything to do with the temperature the caramel is cooked to. If I want it firmer, would I just cook it a little hotter? If so, does it make a difference if I do it before adding the cream AND after adding the cream?

I might want to experiment with this a little bit. See if I can get them a littler firmer. Or a little darker with a stronger flavor.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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Kerry, is it possible to leave the peanut butter out of the Snickers nougat? My littlest brother doesn't eat nuts and this way, I can make him eat it so I won't--if I have the will power anyway. LOL.

You might want to replace it with a small amount of something else like some cocoa butter. Leaving it out will change the texture, a bit softer I suspect.

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the soft caramels were a big hit at this weekend's party.  I guess due to the way they were packed and the course of time, they started to spread and flatten out. They didn't look as pretty as they did originally (not that they were that pretty all wrapped up to begin wtih), and some of them oozed out of the wrappers, but they still tasted great and there were no major issues with them sticking to the foil.

About the spreading..  These are a little softer than the commerical caramels I have had in the past. (i.e. Kraft caramels).  Mt sugar science isn't very strong, but I think the hardness softness has pretty much everything to do with the temperature the caramel is cooked to.  If I want it firmer, would I just cook it a little hotter? If so, does it make a difference if I do it before adding the cream AND after adding the cream?

I might want to experiment with this a little bit.  See if I can get them a littler firmer. Or a little darker with a stronger flavor.

Last week I made a batch to have ready for the caramel class I taught on Sunday. I left the room while the initial sugar syrup was boiling, had the change the rugrat. When I got back - panic - the syrup was 250 degrees. So I quickly poured in the cream, then realized I was supposed to add the butter and honey first. The temp was still staying way up there and that is when I realized my thermometer was turned to Fahrenheit. So that means I had put the cream in when the syrup was 121 C instead of letting it get up to 149. I continued to boil to 121 C after the cream.

So I ended up with more volume than usual and the texture was firm, it was a little difficult to cut, but it melted in your mouth and was interesting.

So normally I would suggest cooking to a bit higher after adding the cream to get it a bit firmer, but you might also want to fool around a bit with the temp before adding the cream.

Now if you want a stronger flavour I think you might want to try an entirely different recipe. Somewhere in eG there is a dark chewy caramel recipe.

Here is the thread.

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Kerry,

you mentioned tempering chocolate. Is there a previous class or something else you can recommend that has good instructions and pictures for tempering newbies? Is tempering bittersweet going to be different than tempering milk chocolate?

As you can tell from my questions, I have no experience here, but would be curious to try this.

Lauren

Lauren

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Kerry,

you mentioned tempering chocolate.  Is there a previous class or something else you can recommend that has good instructions and pictures for tempering newbies?  Is tempering bittersweet going to be different than tempering milk chocolate? 

As you can tell from my questions, I have no experience here, but would be curious to try this.

Lauren

Lauren,

I'll link you to a demo I did a while back on tempering milk chocolate here. For bittersweet chocolate you cool it to 27 C (81 F), and heat back up to a working temperature of 29 to 31 C (84 to 88 F). This is just one way of tempering, there are several other techniques you can use depending on the equipment you have and amount you want to temper.

Excellent instructions can be found in Elaine Gonzalez (eG's own Chocartist) wonderful book The Art of Chocolate (if you are really lucky you can find a copy of her out of print 'Chocolate Artistry' which is just cram packed with excellent techniques and ideas).

If you benefit from seeing things rather than reading about them you may want to have a look at my website for DVD's about working with chocolate.

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Kerry, is it possible to leave the peanut butter out of the Snickers nougat? My littlest brother doesn't eat nuts and this way, I can make him eat it so I won't--if I have the will power anyway. LOL.

You might want to replace it with a small amount of something else like some cocoa butter. Leaving it out will change the texture, a bit softer I suspect.

Thanks Kerry! I'll try it without first, because I've no idea what to replace it with and I don't have access to cocoa butter.

May

Totally More-ish: The New and Improved Foodblog

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Kerry--

thanks for your amazing class and Q&A help~!

i am very, very fond of these Kasugai brand Japanese green tea (matcha) and cream hard candies. they are really just a hard candy that is flavoured with green tea powder and cream.

it seems to me that either by making a harder caramel, or by making the pulled candy recipe, i could add the matcha powder and cream towards the end? if i did this with the caramel, i guess i would get a softer candy, and if i did it with the pulled candy, it doesn't call for cream, and i'd be worried about scorching the matcha (green tea) powder. any ideas?

"The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the ocean."

--Isak Dinesen

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Kerry--

thanks for your amazing class and Q&A help~!

i am very, very fond of these Kasugai brand Japanese green tea (matcha) and cream hard candies. they are really just a hard candy that is flavoured with green tea powder and cream.

it seems to me that either by making a harder caramel, or by making the pulled candy recipe, i could add the matcha powder and cream towards the end? if i did this with the caramel, i guess i would get a softer candy, and if i did it with the pulled candy, it doesn't call for cream, and i'd be worried about scorching the matcha (green tea) powder. any ideas?

This is an interesting challenge. You could try adding some matcha to either recipe after it cools a bit.

You also could try another recipe for a pulled candy that uses cream, that will result in a soft candy after it sits for a while.

From the Time Life candy book

4 cups sugar

1 cup water

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp soda

1 cup light cream

boil all but cream without stirring to 290 F. Add cream 1 drop at a time, do not allow the syrup to stop boiling. Bring back to 290 F, until pale brown. Pour out onto slab and pull until pale ivory or white and too stiff to pull. Cut with oiled scissors. It will soften into a creamy consistancy.

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