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Aug 31, 2006 02:36 AM

English Toffee question

Corn syrup, or no corn syrup?

I'm debating between two recipes:

Uncle Phaedrus, whose French salted caramels I've made successfully:

Also, 285 or 300 degrees? All the recipes seem to say 285, but a lot of comments on epicurious as well as past posts on this site suggest taking it all the way up to 300.

I'm trying to get a caramel that has a nice snap but isn't actually too hard to chew, and won't stick to the teeth too much. Sort of like the texture of See's peanut brittle, which seems to have enough air in it to be crispy rather than hard but isn't "soft" as in "bendable." Hard to describe, but candy lovers will know what I mean.

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  1. seems to me the key is making the caramel with out cream and getting the temp right. Cady making in my world was confined to the glories of Maple sugar which was cooked to 275 as I recall. Love the Phaedrus site: wonder if there is any connection to our chowhound Phaedrus?

    1. Ummmm... shouldn't brittle be... 'brittle?' Are you sure it isn't 'peanut bendable?' ;)

      2 Replies
      1. re: scott123

        I'm trying to make toffee, not brittle! :) And toffe, I think, has a range of hardness. mmmm, brittle. Now you've got me wanting brittle.

        1. re: Pei

          Yes, toffee does have a range of hardness. I'm just pointing out that See's peanut 'brittle' is bendable, and brittle, by the nature of it's name, shouldn't bend.

          As far as which recipe to use, definitely go with Sweet's advice and use the baking soda one. Bubbles in toffee = baking soda.

      2. I would go with the recipe with the baking soda. The soda produces carbon dioxide gas when mixed with the sugars which create a crisp but not-crack-your-teeth hard candy. Then cook the sugar to 300*. This should give you that crisp airy consistancy you are craving.

        1. I make toffee from an old, old recipe (don't remember the original source) and it uses only butter and brown sugar in equal proportions. No corn syrup, no baking soda, nothing else. You simply put a stick of butter and half a cup of brown sugar into a medium saucepan (it will boil up so you need extra room). Heat over medium until the butter is melted & sugar begins to dissolve, stir once or twice to get the sugar mixed in. Once it comes to a rolling boil, cook for 3-5 minutes (it's very humid where I live, so I sometimes give it an extra minute or two past the three minute mark to account for extra water in the sugar). Turn off the heat, and pour it out into a buttered, foil-lined 9" square pan whose bottom is covered with saltine crackers. Pop into a 375 oven for 5 minutes; remove from the oven and sprinkle with chopped chocolate; spread chocolate once it is soft & then sprinkle with chopped nuts.

          The toffee can certainly be made without the crackers, but they give it a nice lightly salted crunch. Kept in an airtight container, it will last three or four days before sugaring. Recipes with a little karo or glucose syrup will make a harder toffee that is stable for longer periods of time, but they're generally a little more precise...requiring specific temps, longer boiling, etc. I like the old idiot-simple butter-brown-sugar method best, and its flavor is great.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Hungry Celeste

            Thank you so much!! My Mom used to make this exact recipie and It has been so long since she's made it and she's forgotten the measurements and I am sooo happy to come across this recipie. I have looked everywhere for toffee that uses crackers and you saved me...thanks :)

            1. re: Hungry Celeste

              Thank you HC for reminding me of a lost recipe for copying Heath Bars. I think we used one cup of white sugar and a half lb butter. Thats all, except for a jar of peanut butter. Just melt the sugar and butter and heat and stir until the mixture is the EXACT COLOR of the peanut butter. Then pour the mix on aluminum foil on a cookie sheet. Then cover with chocolate. Quite simple, really.

            2. RESULTS AND PHOTO

              Thanks HungryCelest! You answered my question precisely. Karo=harder candy.

              I think, for one reason or other, I'm going to need the Karo's. My candy always comes out softer than the recipe describes, even if I add a few degrees to it. Last night, I took the recipe that said cook to 285 and let it go all the way to 300, and it was still soft.

              Results: I went with the Uncle Phaedrus recipe because I didn't have Karo's. My toffee came out with the sandy, slightly bendy texture of a New Orleans praline. I love pralines, so it tasted fine to me. But I'm not sure I can call it toffee. I'm just going to have to hand it to people and say "Here's some candy. You'll eat it and you'll like it."


              2 Replies
              1. re: Pei

                What is your ratio of sugar to butter?

                1. re: Hungry Celeste

                  The recipe was 1 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar to a stick (1/2 cup) butter. Too much butter?

                  I also stirred in my nuts at the end before pouring the candy out, instead of pouring the candy onto nuts. Maybe my nuts weren't dry enough? They were slightly browned around the edges and crunched easily, but maybe there was a little moisture left in them.