Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Butterscotch Hard Candy Two Ways - Easy

Purim is just around the corner, so I thought I'd take some time to share something other than yet another hamantaschen recipe. While I do like those tri-corner fruit or nut-filled cookies, other items can go into a Purim basket as well.  Such as ...

Did you guess right?

















Just 3 short months ago I made a million candies, give or take, for theHubby to share with his clients.  Thought I'd never want to look at sugar-based items again.

"Never" doesn't last as long as it used to.


















The other day  I was a little bored with my usual stable of confections and wanted to make something a little different.  And easier.

Enter the vintage candy recipes at Eating Out Loud.  A number of them include scans of the lovingly handwritten index cards or vintage ads from which they appeared.  Too bad the particular recipe I was interested in didn't have one.   But I was intrigued anyway because vinegar is not something you usually think of as a candy ingredient.  I looked up the purpose of the vinegar, and discovered that its acidity reduces the amount of crystallization in the finished product -- the candy becomes smoother and less grainy.

Regarding brown sugar:  I don't know about you, but about a minute after I open a new bag of soft crumbly brown sugar, remove some of its contents, then carefully roll down the bag to expel the air, rubber band it then place it into an air-tight resealable bag, it turns into a brick anyway.  Even when I dutifully follow tips such as this one coincidentally posted the other day at the kitchn

Speaking of hardened sugar, in the "good ol' days" sugar was purchased in hard cubes, bricks (on purpose) or cones.  Which is the real reason people ate healthy back then.  By the time you chiseled off enough sugar for a recipe, you either used up a million calories, or gave up and settled for an apple.














Now where was I? Oh, yeah, the candies.  Just 4 ingredients, if you count water.  Do not chew ... they won't crunch, but instead will fuse to your molars.  Just give them a couple minutes to melt deliciously upon your individual tongues.

Despite the butterscotch name, they do not contain cream like most of today's versions, and use so little butter that you can make them completely dairy-free (without anyone noticing the difference) by subbing in margarine.

Full disclosure:  I made the brown sugar batch with butter, and the granulated sugar batch with margarine.    Okay, you sharp-eyed Dear Reader you!  Yes, it's true that technically there are four different combinations of brown sugar/white sugar/butter/margarine.  Even though these babies are very easy to make (as long as you have a candy thermometer or a reasonable facsimile on hand) I chose to make just two.  If you want, feel free to try all four different versions and report back to me.

I used a little too much cooking spray and as a result the candies were greasy-feeling (but not greasy-tasting). If you own a tiny silpat, you can skip the spritz step completely.    I'll be hinting for a mini-silpat for my birthday.

Oh ... in case you were worried ... you don't taste the vinegar at all.  Just the "clean" taste of pure sugar.    I prefer the brown sugar version.  Maybe it's because I like the slight molasses-y taste. olderSon (or as we call him, Sgt. Yinon), who is home on leave for a few weeks, tried one and pronounced it "flavorful."   theHubby called the white sugar variety "diabetes drops," which I think means he likes 'em as well.

No dog was harmed in the
make of this candy. Or vice versa.


















Bonus:  Here's a scene from the photo shoot.  I don't usually work at dog's-eye level, but by the time I got around to setting up, the sun inconveniently shifted to the other side of the house.  The nearby piano bench stood in for my photo studio.  And by "photo studio" I mean "dining room table."  Oh, in case you were wondering, Cujo didn't get any candy.  He had to settle for his regular doggie treats.


Butterscotch Candy - Two Ways (Easy)
Lightly adapted from Eating Out Loud
Yield: 36-42 squares

cooking spray
1 cup sugar (granulated white or packed brown)
1 Tbl. white vinegar
2 Tbl. water
1 Tbl. butter (or margarine)


Spritz in sink.  You counter will thank you.

















Line a 1 1/2 quart baking pan or casserole dish with parchment. Very lightly spritz with cooking spray and set aside.














Stir the remaining ingredients in a one-quart saucepan over medium heat just until the sugar is completely dissolved and butter (or margarine) has melted.














When mixture comes to a boil (which happens rather quickly), insert a candy thermometer and reduce heat to medium-low. Continue to let boil, without stirring, until the thermometer reads 300F (about 15 minutes).


White sugar version.














Watch to avoid boilover.

Back to brown.


















Carefully pour molten candy into prepared pan (do not scrape pan).

Cujo tried to distract me. Knife
 almost fused permanently to the candy.



















It may bubble up, then quickly calm down.  Allow to set 10 minutes on a heat-safe surface, then use a table knife to cut the slightly firmed up lava almost all the way through into small squares.

Started cutting just a tad too soon in the white sugar version.














If you can cut through very easily and the cuts "heal" almost immediately, then allow another few minutes and try again.

What a difference a couple minutes make
in the brown sugar version.  Juuust right!















Work quickly because at this point the candy will start to firm up fast and be difficult to run the knife through.

Allow to cool completely to room temperature.  Remove candy from pan and peel off parchment.


















Break candy into individual pieces.  Store in single layers, divided by parchment or wax paper, in a covered container up to 2 weeks.

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