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Caramelization

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hi there, I know this is the pastry section, but as I'm talking about desserts, I was hoping that I've posted it correctly.

I've just started a new job, and some of my mise is to make butterscotch, honeycomb and peanut brittle. As you'll probably know, this is all sugar, which I'm not really experienced in, and I'm having a few problems.

 

Firstly we should talk about the butterscotch.

The recipe I've been given is 800g caster sugar, 1l water, 200ml double cream and 200g of butter. Boil the sugar and water to a light caramel, whisk in the cream, whisk in the butter.


The problem comes in getting a consistent consistency to the butterscotch; sometimes it comes out very thick, almost unusable, and sometimes it comes out like water. Any ideas why, when I'm using the same recipe? Also, how should I be storing this? Fridge or not?

 

Honeycomb recipe is again 800g caster sugar, 1l water, 80g honey and 1tbsp bicarb. Take to caramel stage, add bicarb, whisk and place in a gastro with greaseproof in.

The honeycomb is a similar issue, sometimes when I make it its fantastic, but sometimes its a total disaster. Today when I made it, although it has a good crunch to it, it is too 'sticky' when you eat it, not melting at all but getting in your teeth and not being very pleasant at all. Why is it?

 

Is anyone able to offer some advice? The real problem I'm facing is consistency; sometimes the product is fantastic, sometimes its mediocre and sometimes its unusable. Can anyone suggest a better recipe for either, or a suggestion as to why the problems happen?

post #2 of 9

When you talk about taking it to a light caramel, or for the honey comb, taking to caramel, are you using a thermometer? Is your thermometer accurate?
 

Is the butterscotch a sauce, or hard candy? Sounds like a sauce, it sort of sounds like sometimes your cooking it too long, other times not enough. 

 

Also, I have a feeling your honey comb needs to be boiled more, if theres too much moisture, it will be sticky, also make sure your baking soda is sifted and mixed in completely.

 

I could easily suggest better formulas, but wheres your boss in all this? Where are you working that you can freely just switch to another recipe because what was given you isnt working? There should be someone there to show you how to do it properly. When your starting out, sugar boiling can be finicky, but if you do it enough you'll get very consistant.

post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

There isn't a thermometer provided, they judge it purely by the colour. I'm perfectly happy to buy a sugar thermometer though.

The butterscotch is a sauce.

 

The boss has shown me, but I didn't really grasp it the first time, so now he's being difficult about showing me again. I'm not really sure why, as it was my first time making either of these when he showed me and I've explained that to him. 

 

I can't really 'freely' switch to another recipe, but as long as I get the end result of a good quality, no-one will really challenge me on it.

post #4 of 9

Ok, the thermometer thing makes sense, this guys been making this stuff for a long time. You shouldnt be expected to make candies or any other boiled sugar items based only on color, its not as accurate as you might think. When making pretty much any candies, if you boil the mixture on a low heat, it will brown more. This means that if your making a toffee or something, if you use a lower heat and boil to 310f you'll get a very dark candy, likewise if you boil the same toffee recipe on a higher heat to 310f , using less time to cook, there will be less browning and your have a properly made candy. Both candies were brought to the same tempature, but one will be lighter then the other. Basically, I'm saying that when it comes to boiled candies, color is not telling what tempature the mixture is.

 

Your boss has probably been doing this for a long time, he does it the same time every time, it could very easily be hes using a higher heat along with knowing what the bubbles look like, in addtion to color. While it could easily be that your not using as high a flame and dont want to burn the candy, thus it turn the color your looking for, but in reality is getting pulled off the flame a tad too early.

 

Get a thermometer, you will be so much more consistant then. If the candy is sticky, it needs to be cooked longer. How are the candies finished off? Are they sold just like that, or enrobed in chocolate?

 

Are you having the same problems with your peanut brittle?

 

By the way, get a digital probe thermometer, you'll find that easier to work with then the deepfryer/candy therm. types.

post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 

So, get a sugar thermometer, take it to 310 and I should be set?

post #6 of 9

You will be on your way to being set, with a thermometer you will be able to troubleshoot much better. For a honeycomb candy, 310-315f is what your aiming for, also, when you boil your syrup, make sure the sides of the pan are clean of any grains of sugar, wash those off with a pastry brush and water, and dont stir the syrup until you add the baking soda.

post #7 of 9

minas has got it.

Boiled candy can be a huge PITA until you finally "get it".

Practice those recipes at home with a thermometer until you can slam it every time.

I would also council you to not worry about how the boss can do it by color only.

After you have made this product every day for a few months the "muscle memory" will slowly take over.

Patience, grasshopper.

;-)

 

mimi

post #8 of 9

Humidity in the air could be what is affecting your honeycomb and making it sticky.

post #9 of 9

how do you store the honeycomb? you can buy some product called silica crystals which is designed to take moisture out of a air tight container. you need to make sure that they dont come in contact with the food though so wrap them up in a small cloth and put something like baking parchment on top them the honeycomb. 

 

i agree with the others aswel. when dealing with something as delicate such as sugar consistency is the best thing! always cook the sugar to the same temperature and make sure that your weighing things out correctly. a good way to check a thermometer is putting it in ice water check the reading and boiling water check the read. the results should be obvious but dont put the thermometer straight from one to the other because the sudden temperature change could break the glass.

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