Sunday, December 12, 2010

English Toffee

It wouldn't be Christmas if I didn't have receipts for $300 worth of butter. Seriously, I use a lot of butter everyday, but at Christmas its time to indulge and it seems I can't keep 4 or 5 pounds of butter in the house for more than a couple days.

Part of the reason is recipes like this English Toffee. Its made mostly of butter and only 4 other ingredients: sugar, salt, chocolate and almonds. Talk about your 5-ingredient miracle dishes! This is the kind of alchemy that first drew me to cooking as a little kid. You start out with some everyday ingredients, and end up with candy! Magic!

This recipe is super easy, the only piece of equipment you absolutely MUST have is a candy thermometer. The biggest mistake I have made while making English toffee is not to cook it long enough or to a high enough temperature. Undercooked Toffee is chewy and pulls the fillings out of your teeth. Properly cooked toffee crunches and explodes into a buttery party in your mouth (the kind where ALL the fun people came!).

Finely chopped, this toffee makes an amazing addition to a butter cream for a cake or as ice cream topping.

English Toffee

2 cups blanched almond slivers
3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 pounds (6 sticks) good quality salted butter
1/4 tsp salt
12 oz. good quality chocolate chips (Ghiradelli are my fave)

Preheat oven to 300 F.

Spread almonds out on a large jelly roll pan. Place in oven and toast for about 10 minutes (tossing every 2-3 minutes) until light brown. Cool almonds completely.

In a large, non-stick dutch oven, combine sugar butter and salt. Use wrappers from butter to grease the jelly roll pan, and then place pan in the 300F oven to heat (pouring the cooked toffee into a hot pan will allow the toffee to flow more freely and it will not seize up on you). Cook over high heat until butter melts. Once butter is melted, stir with wooden spoon until sugar is dissolved and mixture begins to bubble. At this stage the mixture will rise up high in the pan and will bubble dramatically

Bubblin' away!

Continue to cook, stirring occasionally to redistribute the heat, until mixture begins to condense slightly and turn a deep amber color. Toffee is completely cooked at 305 F.

Remove Jelly roll pan from oven and place on hot pads. Immediately pour hot toffee into prepared hot pan. After 5 minutes have passed, sprinkle the top of the toffee with chocolate chips. After 10 minutes, the chocolate will have melted and the toffee will have firmed sufficiently to spread the chocolate with a large spoon


Chop the toasted almonds and sprinkle over the melted chocolate. Tap the chopped almonds gently atop the toffee to press nuts into chocolate. Allow to cool completely (overnight) before removing toffee from pan and breaking into bite-sized pieces.

This piece might be a little big...

Smaller pieces are easier to eat!

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