Christmas Toffee

I only call it Christmas Toffee, because I made it for the first time this Christmas for neighbor gifts. I am also well aware that this isn’t “healthy” per se, but at least I use real ingredients, right? Is that my justification? But I can almost guarantee that I will make it again before next Christmas rolls around or heck, before New Years. That is, of course, if Santa does me a huge favor.
Dear Santa,

I have been a good girl. For Christmas I would like a Calibrated Candy Thermometer. Please note, the above pictured thermometer runs about 15 – 20 degrees hot.

I would also like to know the difference between Fannie Farmer’s microwave and mine, so I can adjust time accordingly.


Bad batch #1

The first batch was so bad my 2 year old wouldn’t even scrape the chocolate off, and my husband who eats anything graciously threw it back in the garbage.

The second batch was a joke.

The third batch came from a recipe provided by our friends at Cooking for Engineers.

I need you to understand that I have never tried making candy or any sugary thing requiring use of a candy thermometer before, so my determination to do it all at once was a bit driven by a desire to do it right and figure it out now or be discouraged forever, and by the hormone surges caused by being pregnant. I only wasted one pound of butter. And a few hours.

Next time, I will take it up a notch and use my husbands infrared digital thermometer. It looks sort of like a slot-car gun, you know the trigger on the bottom of the boxy square top? Only this one is pointed at things and takes an instant read temp rather than relying on a pathetic dial that apparently is wrong.

Christmas Toffee
(only slightly modified from this site where they have EXCELLENT photos: May I just recommend you go to their site for the tutorial? I just put it here to feel like I actually put in a recipe for once.)
1 c. butter
1 c. sugar
2 t. water
1 t. vanilla extract
1/8 t. salt
3/4 to 1 c. chopped chocolate or chocolate chips
3/4 c. crushed nuts, I used cashews

Select a small saucepan. Make sure the saucepan is large enough to contain about double the volume of the butter and sugar. As the mixture cooks, it will bubble and increase in volume – using too small of a pan may result in overflows.

Melt the butter in the saucepan with the sugar and salt plus a little (about 2 teaspoons, 10 mL) water over gentle heat. (Low heat is important to prevent separation later. Just be patient and let it melt together.) The extra water will make it easier for the sugar to heat evenly and melt together.

Stir the mixture constantly while heating over medium-high heat. The butter and sugar will bubble and foam as the water boils off. This can take several minutes because butter contains a decent amount of water. The volume of the mixture will increase dramatically at this point. At this point the temperature should be relatively constant at a few degrees above the boiling point of water.

Once the water has boiled off, the mixture will collapse and thicken. The temperature will also start to rise again. The goal is to remove the pan from the heat once the mixture passes 300°F (150°C) and before it reaches 320°F (160°C). Use an instant read thermometer or candy thermometer to keep track of the temperature as you heat and stir because the temperature can change pretty rapidly once the water boils off.

When the mixture reaches 300°F (150°C), remove it from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Pour the mixture onto either a silicone baking mat or a large sheet of parchment paper set on top of a sheet pan. The silicone baking mat is probably easiest to work with since it won’t slide around on the sheet pan. If you’re using parchment paper, one way to keep it in place is to dab the underside of the four corners with a little bit of butter. That will help the paper stay put while the toffee is poured on.

Right after pouring, use a spatula (again silicone works best for working with toffee) to spread the toffee into a rough rectangular shape.

While the toffee is still hot, sprinkle the surface with the chocolate chips. Wait until the bottoms of the chips start to turn shiny and dark brown as they melt from the heat of the toffee, about two minutes. Use your spatula to spread the chocolate. If the chocolate is still mostly solid, wait another minute before attempting to spread again.

Spread the chocolate so that it covers the toffee.

Sprinkle the chocolate surface with chopped nuts. Visually inspect the the surface of the toffee to make sure the nuts are making good contact with the chocolate. Lightly press down on those pieces that are barely touching the surface of the chocolate.

Let the toffee cool for about twenty minutes until the sheet pan returns to room temperature. Slip the pan into the refrigerator to cool down and set for at least thirty minutes.

Remove from the refrigerator and peel the toffee from the baking mat or parchment paper. Working quickly so the chocolate doesn’t melt too much, break the toffee into chunks of the desired size and place into an airtight container. During the breaking of the toffee, you’ll lose quite a few almond pieces, but don’t worry, this is normal.

Because the chocolate isn’t tempered, this English toffee should be stored in the refrigerator to keep the chocolate from melting if the room gets warm.

2 thoughts on “Christmas Toffee

  1. I woke up the other day thinking about making toffee. I think I once made the recipe in mom’s blue YW cookbook that she put together years ago. I haven’t made it yet because I haven’t had the energy to focus on it. I’m in the middle of the Christmas week marathon. I don’t remember it being hard . . . but it was many years ago (I don’t know if I’ve ever made it in Alameda).

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