Sunday, December 20, 2009

Treats Week

I discovered something this weekend. I am not a candy maker! I tried to make a chocolate salted caramel recipe. Burned. Took me 12 hours to get the blackened chocolate caramel carbon off my pot. (FYI: If you ever think that your pot is beyond help, cover your pan with baking soda, add a couple dashes of hydrogen peroxide and vinegar, a drop of dish soap, and then cover with about 2 inches of water. Boil, watching that the foam created doesn't bubble over. I did this about 3 times and the blackened residue finally loosened and I was able to scrape it away.)

I turned my attention to toffee. Burned that too! (Check out the color of the burned toffee below). I blame it all on my candy thermometer. I had never used one before so figured that all I had to do was watch the numbers on the thermometer and I'd be fine. That's all good if your thermometer works! I should have just been watching what I was doing and I would NOT have ruined two batches of candy. Instead I watched as the color went beyond what it should have, all because the thermometer wasn't registering the temperature accurately. (And my apartment now smells like a burnt marshmallow at a campfire!) I think that the thermometer wasn't fully submerged in the toffee goo. Hey, I was just worried about it touching the bottom of the pot and registering too hot. Whatevs. I finally managed to salvage a little pride with my second batch.

Burnt Toffee

I'm planning to make a little something sweet every day this week, hopefully without any more mishaps. But then again, learning from my mistakes will help make my recipes fool proof. I know that I always talk about how much I love dark chocolate. "Milk chocolate is too sweet. Hard candy is too sweet." Blah blah blah. But toffee is one of those sweets that I can not stop eating. Bundle this toffee in a cool box with a groovy bow and you'll have plenty of gifts to give. But please do not make this and give it to me because I will eat it all in one sitting. But then again, I would really appreciate it.

Almond Toffee
(Adapted from Family Circle)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 cup chopped almonds, plus 1/4 cup finely chopped almonds for garnish
12 ounces milk chocolate chips (or 12 ounces chocolate bars, chopped)

1. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with nonstick foil or regular foil coated with a nonstick spray or softened butter. Place a medium saucepan over medium heat and add the butter, sugar, corn syrup, and 2 tablespoons of water. Stir together until the butter is completely melted. Increase the heat to medium-high and insert a candy thermometer.

2. Cook the mixture, without stirring, until golden brown and the temperature reaches 300˚F, about 12 minutes. Turn off the heat and remove the thermometer. Carefully stir in the 1 cup of chopped almonds.

3. Quickly pour the toffee into the prepared pan and spread to the edges. Let cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes.

4. Melt half of the chocolate in the top of a double boiler or in the microwave. Stir until smooth. Spread evenly over the top of the cooled toffee. Sprinkle with half of the finely chopped almonds. Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes.

5. Once firm, flip the entire bar over onto a sheet of waxed paper. Remove the foil. Melt the remaining chocolate and stir until smooth. Spread over the second side of the toffee bar and sprinkle with the remaining finely chopped almonds. Using the waxed paper, slide the toffee bar back into the baking pan and refrigerate for 20 minutes more.

6. Once the chocolate is firm, break the bar into pieces. Store in an airtight container, preferably in the refrigerator, for up to 3 weeks. Makes about 2 pounds of toffee.


Lisa Marie B said...

Happy Holidays, Tina! I can't believe your timing. I was planning to try a salted caramel recipe myself today. I appreciate your cautionary tale! (I bought a candy thermometer about two weeks ago in preparation. I hope mine works!)

This toffee sounds awesome.

Have a very merry Christmas and a happy new year! Maybe I'll see you in NYC sometime in 2010.

WendyB said...

Ooh, that sounds like a frustrating experience. Your neighbors must be mystified by the smell.

Jennifer said...

That sounds very adventurous Tina, but a sweet smell at least perhaps.

mega said...

OMG, my candy thermo ruined my batch of salted caramels too! i was so pissed. those vanilla beans from madagascar are not cheap! last year i made a successful batch with a chocolate wafer cookie crust..yum. i'm gonna try again this week with a DIGITAL candy thermo. keep you posted.

Tina said...

Ahhh! Maybe the digital thermometer is the way to go and I cheaped out on the standard dial.

By the way, my apartment still smelled like a giant s'more when I walked in tonight...

Happy holidays Lisa, and all!

Anonymous said...

burnt stuff aside the real toffee looks terrific!