If you’ve tried your hand at making some toffee recently, don’t be alarmed if you had some trouble. It’s not uncommon for it to crystallize if you’re not careful.
Below, you’ll learn about making this tasty treat and the potential mistakes that can lead to crystallization.
What Is Crystallization?
When you’re making toffee, crystallization refers to the toffee having a grainy consistency. This occurs because the sugar crystallizes and alters the consistency of it.
There are many reasons why this might occur. It’s wise to learn about all of them so that you can avoid making such mistakes.
1 – The Sugar Must Dissolve Completely Before the Mixture Boils
The most common reason why toffee turns out gritty has to do with not dissolving the sugar properly. If the sugar doesn’t dissolve fully before the mixture boils, it’s going to crystallize.
Keep an eye on the side of the pan to see if you can notice any crystals. If you see sugar crystals, you’re supposed to brush them down into the syrup using a pastry brush.
Dip the brush in hot water first to make this easy. It’ll make it simple to wash the sugar back down into the syrup mixture.
Another thing that might help you to solve this issue is to tightly cover the saucepan. Cooking the mixture for three minutes with a saucepan that is covered properly should do the trick.
Doing this creates steam that will melt the sugar crystals. It will even get sugar crystals to melt that are on the side of the pan.
Remember that you’re not supposed to stir the syrup mixture once it starts boiling. That’s why it’s so important to get the sugar dissolved fully before the mixture boils.
2 – Be Careful When Stirring the Mixture
Stirring the mixture is a part of the process before the syrup begins to boil. If you aren’t careful, you might wind up splashing some of the syrup on the sides of the pan.
This is going to cause sugar crystallization issues to occur. You can avoid having this happen by being careful when you’re stirring the syrup.
You want to stir the mixture in a gentle but steady fashion. It should help you to avoid splashing if you do things right.
Try not to get overzealous with your stirring. Exercise patience and understand that you don’t need to stir the mixture using a lot of pressure to get the right results.
3 – The Toffee Got Too Hot
You need to be very careful not to let the temperature get too hot while cooking the toffee. Many beginners make the mistake of getting it too hot while it’s boiling.
Understand that you’re supposed to cook toffee at temperatures between 300 and 310 degrees Fahrenheit. Allowing the temperature to get hotter than this will cause issues with crystallization.
The toffee will turn out gritty and it won’t be exactly how you want it to be. If you don’t already have a candy thermometer, it’ll be wise to go out and purchase one.
Candy thermometers allow you to keep a close eye on the temperature of the toffee. They’re easy to use and they aren’t all that expensive either.
You’ll be able to get a candy thermometer from just about any department store. It’s also simple to buy one online if you’d rather do that.
Cook the candy syrup at the proper temperature and then pour it out to allow it to cool. Toffee is meant to be fairly dense and hard, but it shouldn’t be gritty if everything goes as planned.
4 – Humidity
Humidity has the potential to cause so many problems when you’re making toffee. If you live in a humid part of the world, you’ll need to be very careful when you’re trying to bake or make candy on the stove.
The humidity can throw everything off and cause you to get strange results. You might have a tougher time getting the sugar to dissolve normally.
Some solve this problem by using a slightly hotter temperature than usual. Raising the temperature by two degrees could help you to deal with the humidity problem.
This can lead to other issues if you aren’t careful, though. Working with a hotter temperature than the recipe calls for makes it easier to burn the toffee.
You’ll need to keep a close eye on things if you choose to do this. Many say that it’s just better to avoid making toffee on very humid days.
Of course, using a dehumidifier in your home can help. It’s also wise not to add extra humidity to the room by having bowls of water laying around or by running the dishwasher.
Making toffee can be a very satisfying experience. You just need to be sure to do things right to avoid issues with crystallization.
When sugar crystallizes during the toffee-making process, it causes the toffee to have a gritty consistency. This is going to make it far less enjoyable overall.
Generally, sugar crystallizes when you don’t get it to dissolve properly before the toffee mixture starts boiling. It’s important to try not to splash the sugar on the sides of the pan.
If sugar does get on the side of the pan, you’ll want to brush it down using a pastry brush. Just dip the brush in hot water first.
Also, toffee can become gritty when you cook it at a temperature that is too high. Monitor the temperature using a candy thermometer to ensure that things turn out the right way.
It’s also wise to avoid making toffee on very humid days. Humidity problems can make it a lot tougher to get good results.
Keep all of this in mind and you’ll have an easier time making toffee. It should have the right consistency when you do things properly.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.