Toffee

There are a few things that I try to only eat around the holidays. Not only because it limits how much sugar I consume, but it means they are even more of a treat. Almond Rocha is one candy that I only eat at Christmas. That sweet caramel flavor, a bit of chocolate and nuts just go together perfectly. And I admit, I love opening that gold foil from a famous brand we all know, but making my own means I am also controlling the ingredients. It is a simple recipe with only 5 ingredients, and I bet you have most of them in your pantry right now.

Please read all the instructions before beginning this recipe.it can easily be cut in half.

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds Butter

32 ounces Brown Sugar

24 ounces Chocolate melted

2 cups chopped Pecans (or favorite nut)

Sea Salt

TOOLS

2 quart Sauce Pot

Candy Thermometer

Tin foil

2 Cookie Sheets

Candy making is a simple process and it is done the same way no matter what you are making. You melt sugar and a few other ingredients in a pot, bring it up a very specific temperature, and the end result can be fudge or lollipops. The temperature is the hardest thing to control and is the most important. Cook your fudge too long and it will become hard. Don’t cook your sugar long enough and your peanut brittle is chewy,

You will read terms such as soft ball stage and hard crack stage in every candy recipe. When the sugar and other ingredients reach a certain temperature they behave in a certain way. If you take a bowl of water with ice cubes in it and drip a little of your candy in it, how hard it becomes tells you what kind of candy it will become. For example, in the soft ball stage it forms a soft ball that is easily smooshed between your fingers while a hard crack stage will produce hard strands making it perfect for homemade suckers. An experienced candy maker learns to use ice water to get their candy at the exact stage they like, but if you have never made candy before I highly recommend using that candy thermometer.

The trick is to keep a close eye in your temperature. It starts off painfully slow, but it can jump 20 degrees in less than 2 minutes. One needs to be ready to pull the pot off the burner right before it hits the correct temperature. It is so hot it will continue cooking those last five degrees while you are moving the pot and starting to use it. The hotter the candy becomes it moves quickly from a soft to hard candy and not moving quickly may not produce the results you want. I don’t say this to scare you, only to ensure your first batch turns out perfectly.

When reading your candy thermometer if it is electric, that is pretty simple. I use the old-fashioned kind, I just prefer it for some reason, to read it properly you must bend down and look at the numbers straight on. Looking from above skews those numbers and as I have stated, it is very important you can take an accurate readying. I also suggest having a cup of ice water handy so if any happens to splatter on your hand you can cool it down immediately.

Now for the fun part! Melt 2 pounds of butter in your pot. Once it is melted add the brown sugar and begin stirring. At first you can walk away for a couple of minutes but once the temperature hits 150 I don’t move from that pot.

It takes awhile for the two ingredients to incorporate at first the sugar will settle onto the bottom of the pot.
It takes awhile for the two ingredients to incorporate at first the sugar will settle onto the bottom of the pot.

Once it begins to bubble it will also start foaming. Don’t freak out as this is part of the process, you haven’t ruined anything. While the candy is coming up to temp, cover the cookie sheets with tin foil and use the wraps from the butter cubes to lightly grease it.

Keep stirring, making sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the pot.
Keep stirring, making sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the pot.

Ironicly, as it gets closer to 280 degrees, the foam begins to dissipate. As soon as you see it hit 300, remove the pot and pour onto your prepared pans. It will begin to cool immediately so you need to work fast. It is best to not pour in just once place so that you have very little to spread around.

All those bubbles will disappear on their own.
All those bubbles will disappear on their own.

Allow the candy to cool for two hours before covering with the melted chocolate. I prefer using dark chocolate but you can use semi-sweet or milk chocolate. Sprinkle your favorite chopped nuts on top and finish with a little sea salt.

Chop your favorite nuts coarsely with a chef's knife. This time I used pecans.
Chop your favorite nuts coarsely with a chef’s knife. This time I used pecans.

The easiest way to break the candy is with a steak knife. Push the very tip of the knife near a corner into the toffee and you will hear it crack. Work your way around the pan. For bigger pieces space where you push the knife farther apart.

A little sea salt amplifies the flavors and adds another dimension to a purely sweet candy. Once you try it you will always use it.
A little sea salt amplifies the flavors and adds another dimension to a purely sweet candy. Once you try it you will always use it.

Serve on a platter or place in cellophane bags to give away. Tied with a ribbon and attach a tag to make it really festive.

Add a festive ribbon and gift tag and they are ready to go.
Add a festive ribbon and gift tag and they are ready to go.

I hope I have inspired you to add candy making to your holiday baking list this year.  It is a thing of beauty!

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