Butterscotch Hard Candy … Fail?

Sometimes it doesn’t go the way you planned. If you’re lucky, you discover something else that’s good in a whole different way. That’s what happened this time, but … before I say “Here’s how to do it,” I have to ask people out there who have made more candy: How did we do it?

Follow along and see if you can tell what we did, and can we do it again on purpose.

UPDATE: See the note at the end … we figured it out. (I also discovered when I came to do this update that I hadn’t finished editing it. It’s got the ingredients listed now. Sorry about that.)


4 cups sugar
2 cups water
10 drops butterscotch flavoring
10 drops yellow food color
pinch salt


Mix the sugar and water together and heat to 290° — “hard crack” stage.

There’s no reliable way to gauge this except by using a candy thermometer. If you want to make candy, get one. It clips to the side of the pan.

When it’s ready, add the butterscotch and the food color.

Sure, you can do it without the color, but then you’ll have clear butterscotch, and that’s just confusing. Seriously. We start to form an impression of food based on what it looks like. If you made this green, for instance, and asked people what they thought it was, no one would tell you it tasted like butterscotch.

Anyway, stir it in, using your other right hand to steady the pan.

Pour the candy out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

We’ve had wax paper get soft from the heat and stick to baking sheets before.

Anyway, here’s where things went sideways. This was supposed to be a hard candy, like candy canes. We’ve done a mint version before and it came out perfect. Once it cools you crack it into small pieces.

This batch was pretty thick, and it wasn’t spreading out in the pan into the thin sheet that we wanted. So Jenn spread it out a little with a wooden spoon.

You can see where she touched it starting to bubble, almost like it was carbonated. She tried to go fast before it cooled too much, but it stuck to the spoon.

What you can’t see — and I wish I’d been shooting video, but I had no way to anticipate this — is that about two seconds after that last photo the “fizzing” where she had touched it spread out and all the candy filled with air bubbles. It was like someone opened a can of root beer that had been shaken up.

Instead of a clear, hard candy, we ended up with an opaque, light, crispy candy that didn’t look all that pretty, but it was really tasty, and you could chew it instead of sucking it like a hard candy.

So the question for you: Why did this “fizz” like a shaken-up root beer? Is it something we can do on purpose? And how do we prevent it, so we can make what we intended, a traditional hard candy?

UPDATE: Okay, so I went back and checked the recipe. There was supposed to also be a cup of corn syrup in there. Oops.