Friday, December 08, 2006

What I Learned from Making Toffee

Attempt #1: Once the temperature exceeds 200 degrees, occasional or frequent stirring is an understatement – if you stop, even for a second, the batch will be ruined. On to……

Attempt #2: Even if you purchase the higher price tool (because it was all they had left), and it was brand new, that does not guarantee a candy thermometer is accurate (Target and I will be having a talk….) Perhaps that explains the burning on the previous attempt, oh well, on to…..

Attempt #3: When a recipe calls for a candy to reach hard-crack stage then puts 300 degrees in paranthesis, there is a difference…. Hard crack is a degree or two higher, hmmmm…. Wish I’d paid more attention to that detail. Still have more butter and brown sugar so on to…..

Attempt #4: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again, and you can find success….. However, I don’t really like the taste of this stuff anyway compared to the amazing stuff my mother-in-law makes which just happens to have arrived in the mail today…..I think I’ll go back to the Saltine toffee……

Attempt #5: Saltine toffee is good stuff, especially if done right, which, I managed to do on my first attempt (I was just warming up….) – and as long as you stand at the stove stirring brown sugar and butter, you don’t have to start cleaning up!


Yesterday, marked my 10th year making goodies for the folks that John has worked with. From Riles Audio to Rosen, and finally, Tyson Steele – it’s been my crazy tradition to try to present his co-workers with homemade treats. I remember the year I was pregnant with Brayden being up half the night doing it all. I’ve gotten a bit more organized since then (and don’t have the crazy pregnant insomnia).

A couple of other things I’ve learned, fudge is out – not enough folks like that, and don’t even make an effort at gingerbread or molasses cookies, I may like it, but not the guys. Also, stick to the bar cookies, a 9x13 pan is much easier to cut up than dozens of cookies carefully placed on a pan. I still do the sugar cookies complete with frosting and sprinkles, but forget the cut-outs, rolling them in ball shapes (like you do for Snickerdoodles) is as good as it gets these days.

Finally, one more lesson learned….. if you have a golden retriever giving you lots of attention in the kitchen while baking, it’s not just because she loves you….. she’s plotting. While changing to go to the grocery store, fully intending to take her with me as I didn’t dare leave her in the house with all of the ingredients around, I ran to the kitchen wondering if I shouldn’t make sure something wasn’t happening. Sure enough, there was Sydney chowing on the unfrosted sugar cookies. My best attempt at counting the imprints on the wax paper leaves me guessing she put down about 29 of them……(at least they were small). Needless to say, Sydney spent the rest of the day and early evening outside without an ounce of sympathy from me…

3 comments:

chele said...

Very impressive Stephers - very impressive...
Next time, can I pretend to be John's co-worker and order a plate? That might be as close to homemade cookies Michael would see this year - unfortunately, holiday baking has been put on hold a bit more with a trailer kitchen. As strange as it seems though, it is a bit of a relief for me - the kids can make the cookies at Stephie's and Grandma's and I can try to conquer the other 5000 things on my list. When we move, I'll no longer have an excuse - hopefully I'll better have my act together then... :)

JustMe said...

I know what you mean, Michele, about some things actually being a relief - I have used all kinds of excuses the past few years, for not decorating my tree, and the truth is, it's a relief to HAVE an excuse...90% of my ornaments have not been out of the attic in the last five years! I have a small bag of non-breakables that the kids hang on the bottom 2 feet of tree each year, and that's "it."

Steph, this post really cracked me up! And reinforced my belief that any candy requiring a thermometer and various testing phases, is not worth making at home!!

HollieHobbie said...

Now I feel bad that I wasn't at a spot to chat with you when you called.
So with toffee do you put down nuts and then top it with chocolate and nuts? A client used to make it for me and now I appreciate all the work that went into it!
The saltine toffee is soooo yummy!