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Each year at this time, I make 4-6 batches of Butter Toffee (2c sugar, 2 c butter, 2 tsp vanilla, 6 tbsp water), but only about half usually turn out ok. About half way through the heating process, the unsuccessful batch starts to separate. Once, I saved it by doing something magical to the temperature and stirring vigorously, but I don't know what I did. Every other time, Once it starts separating, it is a lost cause.

I use the same pan, same stove, same wooden spoon to stir, and I think I am either using heat that is too high, or too low and too long. Help!

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There is a very long thread about the subject here Too long to copy here. Seems the important things are: Use cane sugar, control temperature, use a pinch of salt, .... and have luck. – Dr. belisarius Nov 22 '10 at 22:53

If you are using an electric stove you might have heat fluctuations enough to make it separate.

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Try using an emusifier, like Lecithin; a quantity of 0.1-0.2% of your batch size. You can buy it at health stores.

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The fat that you see on the toffee, usually comes from the components cooling at different speeds.

As with anything that you are making using melted butter, like a hollandaise sauce, adding a spoon or two of very hot water and stirring will help to bring these components back together, it helps with the dispersion of both the fats and the heat. Stirring is an important component to ensure the heat is equally distributed throughout the mixture, which ensures it cools evenly.

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Water is an emulsifier now? – Jefromi Aug 20 '13 at 4:58
Water isn't an emulsifier. Very hot water and the action of stirring it act as an emulsifier in this case. – Daniël W. Crompton Aug 20 '13 at 7:28

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