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The best tips for making homemade butterscotch include having supplies and ingredients ready and considering elements like cooking temperature, ratio of sugar to butter, and which secondary flavors to incorporate, as well as how to get the desired form for your confection once it's cooled. Pre-measuring ingredients, investing in heat-resistant bakeware, and using the proportion of ingredients for the desired consistency is key. Vanilla, salt, and other extracts or liqueurs can provide the finishing touch to a delicious recipe, while techniques like scoring can help with presentation.
It's typically best to lay all supplies and ingredients out in the order that you'll use them before you begin any project in the kitchen. Homemade butterscotch cooks quickly and requires constant attention, and even several seconds of overcooking can change the desired consistency. All ingredients should be premeasured and portioned, ready to be poured into the sauce pan at the appropriate time. Making homemade butterscotch requires cooking at high temperatures and slow cooling, so heat-proof and non-reactive utensils and containers, such as stainless steel and glass bowls, work well.
The proportion of ingredients in butterscotch affects its ultimate texture and consistency. The ratio of sugar to butter can range from 4:3 to 16:1 among recipes. Typically, the higher the sugar content and the less grainy the candy mixture is, the harder the finished confection becomes, so long as it's heated to the correct temperature. Most butterscotch brittle recipes add corn or treacle syrup to achieve the proper hardness.
Adding several other ingredients can give homemade butterscotch varying flavors. Many recipes advise using unsalted butter and adding salt and vanilla later so that you have more control over the balance of flavors. Rum extract or various liqueurs may also be used. and cream is also common, adding smoothness and a mellow taste.
Proper cooking time is essential for great homemade butterscotch. If you're unsure how long to heat the ingredients, purchasing a candy thermometer can tell you exactly how hot the confection is so that you know when to remove it from the heat. Otherwise, the overheated candy may be gummy and tacky instead of a smooth sauce. Hard butterscotch, however, needs a longer cooking time to toughen completely.
If you're preparing hard butterscotch candies or brittle, you'll find that it's difficult to make a clean cut once the confection has hardened. Scoring the candy while it's still warm in the pan helps with this issue. You can also use heat-proof candy molds for custom-shaped treats.
With the recent popularity of salted caramel, I may have to try a version of salted butterscotch. The salt helps cut the sweetness of the caramel and may do the same for butterscotch.
And I'd definitely use heat-proof molds for making hard candy. The thought of trying to get it scored before it got too cool is not a pleasant one. I've seen some really cute silicone molds in the craft stores where they have the baking supplies.
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