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Saltine toffee failure - what am I doing wrong?

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I've been making this for three years at Christmas, and it's been a failure every time except for the first time, which has frustrated the heck out of me!

My problem is with the toffee - instead of being smooth and toffee like, mine is more crystalline, if that makes any sense.

I've tried as many variations as I can think of: I melt 1 cup butter with 1 cup brown sugar, and have tried every iteration: boil for 2 mins, boil for 3 mins, boil until 238, salted butter, unsalted butter, stir with wooden spoon, don't stir at all. Melt the butter first, then add the sugar, melt them both together. I made two batches yesterday, and neither has that smooth toffee texture - it's almost as if the sugar hasn't melted properly, and the last batch I cooked until it got to 240 - same result.

It drives me crazy that my friends have no problem with this, and such a simple recipe has me defeated!

ANY ideas on what might be the problem?

This recipe is a bit different - it cooks to 300 and doesn't go in the oven:

http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/ch...

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  1. No stirring, and 240° is not the right temp for toffee. Is there any corn syrup in your recipe? Past time to switch to another recipe. I like the Food & Wine one, and here's another one made with both white and brown sugar, just to compare. No saltines, but you can sub them for the nuts in this recipe:

    http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2005/12/...

    Good luck.

    1. Here's a recipe using matzoh instead of saltines. But I'm sure you can substitute. I've used this recipe before...it's pretty simple.
      http://www.melindalee.com/index.php?o...

      1. This recipe is fool-proof. You can sub in saltines for the matzoh.

        http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2008/01/...

        2 Replies
        1. re: jencounter

          Doesn't everyone just love David Lebovitz!

        2. I checked the recipe I use and I do it for 3 minutes at a full boil. I've never had any issues with it and don't bother to take a specific temperature even. Maybe it's the corn syrup in yours throwing it off?

          http://www.quirkycookery.com/2011/09/...

          1 Reply
          1. re: QuirkyCookery

            No, corn syrup will help her problem. Her toffee is sugaring--building crystals again. As previous posters have said, find a recipe with a little corn syrup (it really helps stabilize and prevent crystallization), don't stir as it's cooking (give the pan a little swirl if you get hot spots), and have a pastry brush with water ready to brush down and dissolve any crystals that form on the walls of the pan. If they get in the mix, they'll seed the production of more crystals.