Toffee. Butterscotch. Caramel. All equally beautiful words to a sugar hound, but what is the difference? Can I use them interchangeably, or will the dictionary police write me a ticket?
Caramel is a process of heating sugar to a particular temperature, at which point the sugar will begin to change colour from light golden to deep amber.
You get Butterscotch when brown sugar and butter are slowly melted together and brought to a boil. The mixture is cooked to the 'soft crack' stage on a candy thermometer.
Toffee is created when butterscotch is cooked to the 'hard crack' stage on your candy thermometer.
And dulce de leche? Heat sugar with milk, or 'leche', until the milk has mostly evaporated and the sugar is thick and caramel in colour.
Why am I pondering this? I recently treated myself to the delightful cookbook from Butter Baked Goods. Beautiful photos accompany each recipe (a must for any cookbook, in my opinion) and the recipes are simple and unpretentious. I chose the maple pecan butterscotch scone recipe to try first, but had to modify it (a lack of pecans) and replaced the butterscotch chips with toffee bits. I also scaled down the yield as I still want to fit into my new jeans, and as you know, scones are best eaten the same day they are made.
These scones have a delightfully light and fluffy interior with a crispy sweet exterior, and just the right amount of maple flavour without being overpowering. The toffee bits dissolve into little pockets of sugar. Although I am sure that pecans add a nice crunch factor, to be honest, when I make these again (and I will be making these again soon in the very near future - like maybe tomorrow), I am going to skip the pecans and stick with my toffee bits.
Maple Toffee Scones
adapted from Butter Baked Goods
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2/3 cup toffee bits
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/8 cup maple syrup
1 egg (for egg wash)
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add in butter and blend with a pastry cutter or by hand, until butter pieces are the size of peas and large flakes. Add in toffee bits.
Mix maple syrup into buttermilk, pour into flour and butter mixture, and stir with a wooden spoon until almost combined. Gather the dough into a large but messy ball. Set in fridge to keep cold until ready to roll out.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and prepare your rolling surface. Lightly flour the kitchen counter or lay out a large sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle flour on top. Roll out dough to 1 inch thick and use a circular biscuit cutter to to cut out circles. Place scones on a parchment lined baking sheet. Spread a little egg wash on each scone with a pastry brush and sprinkle with a little sugar.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown,