I was made aware that this past Saturday was Sweetest Day, which I had never known its origins as being a promotion to boost candy sales. A holiday designed for buying candy? How did I not know about this sooner?
That’s it, I will always celebrate Sweetest Day by making candy to give away to people I like from now on.
I had a late start this time around and after thinking of different kinds of candies I could make, I decided on a favorite: Toffee. You want to know one of the reasons why it’s a favorite of mine? The recipe starts out with one pound of butter.
Yes. You read that right. One. Pound. Of. Butter.
See? I wasn’t kidding. And to that one pound of butter (say it a few times, it feels awfully decadent) in went two cups of sugar. I had this in my heavy enameled cast-iron pot with the heat on medium, and once the butter melted, I slipped on the candy thermometer and it was time to stir. And stir. And stir some more.
At first, once the butter melted, it was kind of odd and “broken” looking (broken being a culinary term when a fat separates from a sauce, like in homemade macaroni and cheese or hollandaise that’s been overcooked)–the melted butter acts like it doesn’t want to incorporate into the sugar, but I knew better. Somewhere at 240°, I had this bubbling mass that still had another 10 minutes or so to go before we had toffee.
After hours and hours and hours of stirring, the syrup hit the Hard Crack Stage (I should throw in some Crack Is Wack joke in here somehow) which is 300°-310°. This is when it’s time to work quickly. Once the heat gets turned off on a cooking sugar syrup, it will start its crystalization process.
Immediately I tossed in about 1 1/2 cups of roughly chopped almonds. To be honest, I stole them from Choo’s snacking stash, and they were already roasted and lightly salted. I don’t mind some salt in caramels, and in fact, I think it enhances the flavor of the caramelized sugar and browned butter. After the almonds were mixed in, I (carefully!) poured this into a well-buttered 8″ square cake pan.
I use a smaller pan because I like my toffee in big, solid chunks, but I know that others like it in thinner sheets, so a 9 x 13 cake pan or a silpat-lined sheet pan (for even thinner sheets, or if you want to break it up for little toffee pieces for other confections like pretzels dipped in milk chocolate and rolled in toffee bits).
Once this block had cooled a bit (but still very warm to the touch), I sprinkled the top with shaved dark chocolate which promptly melted so I could spread it out into a nice, thin sheet of chocolate. And, really, that’s it–you don’t need to do anything else. Once it’s fully cooled, it pops out of the pan very easily, and can be broken up into bite-size pieces with a large knife or a toffee hammer.
One of my ideas for the holidays is to try to find a source for little toffee hammers like See’s used to put in their boxes of Victoria Toffee. I could just wrap up an entire block of this toffee in cellophane and attach the hammer in the bow. Sugar and Tools: a winning combination.
But, this time around, I just piled pieces up on a plate and brought them into work:
Yeah, that’ll do.
1 pound unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
1-2 cups of roughly chopped toasted almonds (amount is to personal preference)
4-6 ounces dark chocolate, either shaved, or in chips
- In a heavy-bottomed pot turn heat to medium and add butter and sugar.
- Once butter melts, stir often as syrup begins to boil. Keep a close eye on the syrup as it can scorch easily.
- Simmer syrup until it reaches the hard crack stage, at 300° to 310°, approximately 10-15 minutes.
- Turn heat off and working quickly, add nuts and stir until fully incorporated. Pour into buttered cake pan or silpat-lined sheet pan.
- When the toffee has cooled slightly but is still very warm to the touch, sprinkle chocolate on top and let the heat of the toffee melt the chocolate. Spread chocolate evenly with rubber spatula.
- Let toffee cool completely before lifting out of pan. Use a heavy knife or small hammer to break into bite-sized pieces.