Monday, December 17, 2012

Not Your Grandma's Toffee

Kateri is a bit of a slave when it comes to the kitchen. She loves to cook. And somehow I always get roped into projects I am not quite ready for. Yesterday I came into the kitchen. The mixer was running and she had a  variety of ingredients lined up on the counter. She had decided to make oatmeal cookies. She doesn't use recipes. She likes to cook from memory and  taste. I asked what she had added already. She said butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla,and baking powder. Which sounds ok at first. Then I asked about amounts. Turned out to make the amount of sugar work, we were going to have to quadruple the recipe.
 So we added the necessary missing ingredients. At which point she got bored and left me to finish and bake several dozen cookies. Which had been on my to-do list for the morning. Right there before breakfast and showering. I thought Oh, well. At least we'll have some treats for the freezer for a while. Then I realized Kateri had disappeared. And so had an entire pan of cookies. When I finally found her she was just coming back for a neighbors, where she had delivered the missing cookies. Oh, well, I thought. We didn't really need that many cookies. And other than being a little on the flat side they were tasty and worthy of gifting to a friend.
So the next night when Kateri was having some sad issues, I can't even remember what it was about, but it was really sad and required Shane to sit in her room at bedtime for a ridiculous amount of time, I came up with the brilliant idea of telling her we could make some toffee the next day. To give away. She was content with that and stayed in bed making plans for the next day
The next day came and we got distracted with Christmas cards and never got to the toffee. Which of course she remembered at bedtime which gave her something to be sad about. So to make sure we would be successful the next day, I put out all the ingredients and pans we needed so we could start as soon as Malachi had a full belly and went down for a nap.  
  Imagine her surprise when she came down in the morning to find I was the only one awake and we were ready to start cooking.

It was good we got an early start. Because it took three hours, as many batches, and more butter than I care to think about. Not that I have anything against butter, just wasting it. 
My Grandma used to make toffee every Christmas and we were always excited to get the instant Folgers  jars filled with yummy toffee. This was not like that.

Here is what I pictured, and how the session started out.

Then it all went terribly. For a reason I could not figure out, the butter kept separating from the sugar.  We stirred and stirred. Tried different temperatures. Stirred some more. The first batch was not working out. So I tried soaking up the butter with paper towels and continuing with the stirring. It came out way too thick and undercooked.

The second batch came out better, but was actually on the burned side and still had the butter problem.

  We still had butter and Malachi was awake but cooperative so we forged on ahead to make a third batch. First I looked up problems and fixes. One said to keep a constant temperature. one said to start with room temperature butter and add sugar right away to keep the melting even. Another to add a tiny bit of boiling water and keep stirring. We did all of the above and when it looked like this we stopped.

And followed the rest of directions. They are cooling now, but I think after 3 hours, 3lbs of butter, and lots of kitchen mess we have success. At least one batch of it. Malachi seems to have used up most of his good will for the day and will be needing  some more intense attention. And Kateri went to play at a friends so I can finally sit down, have a coffee, and hold my baby. If you are interested- Here is the recipe I used.

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