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Toffee gone wrong!

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Why oh why didn't my toffee harden properly? I simmered it constantly for 25 minutes and still, only firm goo at the end. Ideas?

Here are the ingredients:
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt

Also, any tried and true recipes are welcome. Thanks!

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  1. It's usually not the length of time you boil the candy that's critical when making toffee, it's the temperature to which you get the molten sugar. A good candy thermometer is indispensable in candy making, especially toffee and all it's derivites. If your sugar mixture didn't get to the Hard Crack stage - 385* - it won't set properly. Do you know if you got to that temperature or not?

    6 Replies
    1. re: Gayla

      I thought hard crack was just over 300 F? I'm not positive, but I think that at 385 F, you've pretty much got tar.

      1. re: David Kahn

        Yes, David, you are correct, according to the site cited below. Perhaps Gayla made a typo.

        Nevertheless, Gayla's general information is correct. For candy making a good thermometer is essential. Also the weather, expecially the humidity, can ruin an otherwise well-prepared batch of candy.

        Link: http://www.themediadrome.com/content/...

        1. re: Dorothy

          Thank you all. I will try again in a week or two & let you know how it goes. I have a candy thermometer (not sure why) and I'll use it next time. The recipe, I now realize, was hopelessly unclear to the neophyte, but I know better now thanks to you!!

        2. re: David Kahn

          Actually, it's a typo. It should have read - 285* as Hard Crack.

          1. re: Gayla
            b
            babette feasts

            For toffee, I'd go beyond merely hard crack into caramel, say 325 or so, to get good caramelized sugar and browned butter flavors.

            1. re: babette feasts

              Okay, I pulled out the toffee recipe that I've been making for 35+ years and that has been in the family for longer than that. It's basically a knock off of Almond Rocha. The recipe says to cook the sugar mixture to 300* watching carefully once it hits 280*.

              I can tell you from experience that the temperature does increase rapidly from 280* to 300*. I can also tell you that if you use too high a constant temperature during cooking you will come out with a toffee that is very, very dark, that can also be somewhat bitter.

              My preferrence is to make toffee using a gas flame as you can regulate the temperature better. But I've been pretty successful using an electric range as well, you just have to be a little more diligent with the temperature control. After making toffee for 35+ years I'm to the point where I can pretty much tell by smell and appearance when it's ready. But even after all those years, I still use a candy thermometer, especially towards the end so I can make sure I get it up to the right temperature.

              As they say, practice - and a candy thermometer - makes perfect :-)).........