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Candy-Making Woes. What went wrong?

Laurella | Dec 20, 200401:05 PM

Okay,maybe I'm a fool for continuing to use the same recipe when it's failed on me no fewer than four times, but I've also had success with it and I persist in thinking it's user error. I just can't figure out what my error is. My toffee with almonds keeps on separating (the sugar and butter are not friends). Here are the details and I'm hoping someone can pinpoint the problem. I'll mention first that I am a careful candy-maker and followed all instructions religiously.
1. Used Fannie Farmer toffee with almonds recipe
2. used 1lb. trader joe's unsalted butter
3. used 2 c trader joe's evaporated cane juice sugar (it doesn't matter that i didn't use white refined sugar, right?)
4. brought mixture to a boil. after 5 min added chopped almonds. washed down sides with water.
5. cooked over medium-low gas in a heavy pan
6. stirred slowly in only one direction with wooden spoon.
7. all was well until temp hit about 275 (Fannie says to get it to 290 for hard crack)
8. suddenly, butter and sugar separated and sugar seized into a mass
9. after having this issue in the past, I'd read you can add cold water a few tablespoons at a time to get it back together. This was a disaster and I think made things worse.
The day was foggy, but I've had this same issue with clear weather, too.
What am I doing wrong? Why has this recipe worked in the past but now ceased to work? How can I make successful toffee in future? Should I hang up my apron when it comes to candy-making?

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