Tuesday, January 25, 2011

English Toffee

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Now back to your regularly scheduled program.

Cooking sugar seems to be a bit of a complicated thing for me. Ever since we got our new range, I always miscalculate how high the heat on our stovetop actually is compared to what I would expect based on my old oven. Paula’s recipe says to cook the sugar mixture over medium-high heat until it reached 300 to 310 degrees F. In under ten minutes, my medium-high heat scorched my sugar mixture around the edges, and rendered my first batch inedible. Don’t think for a minute I didn’t try to salvage the mixture. I hate letting effort go to waste, so I figured I could still coat it with chocolate and it would mostly hide the burnt taste. I will go on record saying that was a flop, and not only had I wasted some butter and sugar by burning it, I now wasted a good bit of chocolate trying to hide it. Into the trash that batch went, and back to the stovetop I headed.

This time, I let the mixture boil on medium-low heat and, and while it took much longer for the mixture to come to temperature, I had no scorching or burnt edges. After pouring it out, spread it quickly, before it begins to set.

I like mine thin, so I spread it on a large parchment sheet. So thin in places that the mat would show through. After it set for a little bit, but was still warm, I sprinkled chocolate chips on top and let them sit until mostly melted. Then I just spread the melted chocolate on top of the toffee.

The fun part is after it all cools, you get to just break it apart. No muss, no fuss. I figured now would be a good time for quality control, and I was thrilled with the results. The toffee was sweet and buttery, and broke apart but still had a melt-in-your-mouth quality about it. The chocolate just sent it over the top. I love it, too , because it has so few ingredients, and they are ingredients I always have lying around in my pantry. Nothing exotic, just simple, delicious and decadent. Works for me!

English Toffee
Paula Deen via the Food Network

14 tablespoons (1 stick, plus 6 tablespoons) butter
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cold water
1/2 cup chopped pecans (I omitted in my recipe)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Dash salt
1 (6-ounce) bag semisweet chocolate chips or thin chocolate bars
Generously butter a cookie sheet.

Put butter, sugar, and water in a heavy pan or skillet over medium-high heat.

Bring to a bubbling boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, about 10 minutes. Remove spoon from pan, and cook to a very brittle stage (300 degrees to 310 degrees F on a candy thermometer). Or, make a cold water test: candy will separate into hard, brittle threads when dropped in cold water.

Remove from heat and add nuts to mixture. Add vanilla and salt. Pour onto prepared cookie sheet and spread to 1/4-inch thickness.

Cool slightly, top with chocolate chips or chocolate bars, and spread as it melts. Cool completely and break into pieces. Store in an airtight container.

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pup said...

This looks tasty!! I haven't had home made toffee in ages!!

GLORIA said...

Your recipe reminds me of a recipe I completely forgot about! It calls for 3/4 cup of brown sugar and one stick of butter and three quarters of a cup chopped nuts. Plus a cup of semi sweet chocolate chips. That's all! You pour the nuts into a pie pan and then you pour the cooked caramel over them and then the chocolate chips over the caramel. Let cool and then flip pie pan over. They fall out. Then you cut. So easy! If you're in the mood to make another batch of this type of candy, let me know and I'll give the recipe to you. The brown sugar and butter flavor is to die for! Thank you for jogging this pleasant memory!

Lynne @ CookandBeMerry said...

Your recipe sounds absolutely delicious! This is the kind of thing you hide from the other people you live with, and take out when no one is looking. Just for yourself. Just saying.

Joyti said...

Getting used to a new stove must be difficult.
I haven't made toffee before, but yours sounds really good.

Caroline said...

Pup, this was actually one of my first times with homemade toffee, and I have to say, I'm hooked. It's so decadent, and so easy. yum!

Gloria, I'm so glad I could jog a tasty memory for you. I would love the recipe if you would like to share it! After making this recipe once, there is no way I'm going to let a whole year go by without making toffee again!

Lynne, were you spying on me? Because you must have found my 'secret stash' that I hid under the other cookie bins of the little pieces that had the perfect chocolate-to-toffee ratio. And I don't feel the least bit of guilt! :)

Indie.Tea, the new stove has it's 'quirks' but I think it's more me having to get used to a stove that actually works and holds the temperature like it's supposed to. My other one would have no power behind the burners, and the oven would shut off on occasion. I just have to get used to having a working range!

Smitten with my kitchen said...

I made a similar recipe around Christmas, but I added a few more toppings. After the chocolate, I sprinkled sliced almonds on some, decorating sugar on others, but the hands down favorite was a bit of coarse salt. Oh how I love the salty-sweet flavor combination. Next time I make it, that will be the only topping I use.

Caroline said...

The toppings sound amazing. I'm pretty sure I would go absolutely gaga for the coarse salt. I love sweet/salty combinations! Next year I think I'm going to branch out with the toppings, and I'm probably going to steal your suggestions to start!

blackbookkitchendiaries said...

this sounds fantastic:) i love would to try some. thanks for sharing this.

Christina of Form V Artisan said...

Engineering and cooking are a good match. I'm a Food Scientist, and I studied a fair bit of Food Engineering in my day!

Caroline said...

Black book kitchen diaries, I'm always glad to share! :)

Christina, I have found engineering gives me an analytical view of a lot of recipes, and most of the times I want to know the 'why' of a recipe before trying them. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn't (no amount of reading can compare to attempts in the kitchen sometimes!) Love that you are a food scientist! That must be so much fun!

Hopie said...

You really are quite brave to cook sugar! I'm impressed. That toffee looks delicious!

Rick said...

It is fun breaking it apart!

Caroline said...

Hopie, after dropping burning sugar on myself at least once, and having this spatter on my hands when I added the vanilla, I do see why people are leery of cooking sugar. I, however, am more motivated than my stomach than deterred by pain, so this toffee was worth each and every little spatter burn!

Rick, breaking it apart is the best part. Few things are more cathartic than breaking toffee and pounding chicken breasts down for chicken parmesan!

Lisa said...

That toffee looks butter, chocolatey, and utterly delicious. I hope you'll come and link these up at Sweets for a Saturday #2.

Caroline said...

Thanks, Lisa! I would love to link these up for Saturday #2!

Lisa said...

Thanks so much for linking this up to Sweets for a Saturday. I hope you'll be able to join in again.

Caroline said...

No problem, Lisa! Glad to link up!

Gloria Lee said...

Hi! After I commented on yours, I made my old favorite and it is not my old favorite anymore!!! My new favorite is the one I just posted recently. It is more like yours, but with the nuts...boy is it delicious!!! It is an addiction in my house so can't make it too often.

Caroline said...

Your recent post of toffee looks fabulous, Gloria! I am going to have to try it with the nuts next time, I'm sure it's super. It's always fun to find a new favorite recipe!

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