Monday, May 09, 2011
A few months ago I was contacted by Zeke’s Candy Company with an offer to try their Old Fashioned Cracked Butterscotch. I love butterscotch, but then I thought, what is butterscotch? Do I even know what the real stuff is beyond the artificially colored and flavored butterscotch disk hard candies that I grew up on?
Their website only added to the mystery, as there were no photos of the candy itself, just the containers. When it arrived, it was just as mysterious, a deep brown box. It rattled, like it was a jigsaw puzzle made out of ceramic. It was pretty heavy to, so this was some dense stuff. Inside were two sealed bags of powdery and jagged pieces. Pieces range in size from a half an inch across to an inch and a half.
The ingredients are simple: butter, cane sugar, unsulfured molasses, water, vinegar and salt. So there was no “flavor” for butterscotch, it was obviously what they did with these simple ingredients that made scotched this butter.
As an artisan candy, the pieces are not machine made in any fashion. They’re thin pieces of “bark” that are broken into pieces small enough to suck on and then tossed in powdered sugar to keep them from sticking together. This is a bit messy, as there is both a bit of powdery residue on the fingers and a few little shards in the bottom of the bag when you’re done. It also means that this candy really can’t be placed into a candy dish, it needs to be kept in an airtight container (a zipper plastic bag will do) or else it gets tacky.
Once the powered sugar is gone from their surface, it’s apparent to me that Butterscotch is just toffee cooked to a slightly different texture. Where toffee cleaves into crunchy pieces, butterscotch is like a hard caramel, it’s smooth and eventually warms enough to become a very stiff and sticky chew (but only do it if you have complete confidence in your teeth or dental work).
The flavor is great, full of deep notes of caramelized sugar, molasses, honey, toast and salt. It’s a slow candy, great for times when you need something to go with a pensive activity.
I had a really hard time not crunching on it, so it got to be a challenge for me to at least wait until it was soft enough to chew. I found the stuff satisfying and addictive at the same time. It’s nothing like any other butterscotch candies I’ve had, the deep creamy smoothness is so much better than a straight sugar and corn syrup base.
I don’t recommend it for humid areas as I did find that it got tacky and sticky if left uncovered even in the low moisture Southern California where I live. If you’re a fan of the style of hard lollipops from See’s, this is a great small piece version with fewer ingredients. I could see there being a few other versions of these, perhaps with nuts, cocoa or even some coffee.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.