Friday, January 25, 2013

My favourite English Toffee

Amy's English Toffee - you will love it!

Waiting for the chocolate chips and chunks to melt onto my English Toffee. 

I love making  this toffee every winter.  It's great to  share with friends, family, and co-workers as it makes a large pan and travels very well - in fact, I made it a week in advance and carried put the bag in my checked luggage when I went to the UK to visit friends and wanted to share a homemade treat with them. And the second best part - I've included an easy way to clean the pan!

Before you begin - make sure you have an accurate candy thermometer. We are working with sugar caramelization and sugar concentration in this system.  The temperature will tell us where we are in the reaction chemistry (heating will break the bonds in the sugar causing them to release water. As the water is released and boiled away, this will create a thicker product. This is always why the product snaps - because you have created a very hard sugar matrix without much water, ok - enough food chemistry)

Step 1. Mix 2 c sugar and 2 c butter (4 sticks) in a large, heavy bottomed sauce pan. Bring to a boil. 

Step 2. Add 1 cup (8oz) of sliced almonds. Stir constantly while boiling the mixture. 
Start Boiling

Keep Stirring        
You are trying to get to what we call "hard-crack" stage or 300F.  Keep stirring and watching the temperature rise. I have an electric stove (heats more slowly than gas) and this took me ~12 minutes. You can see the color changes from pale gold (above) to a rich golden color (below).

Beautiful - > done at 300F
Step 3. Once you reach 300F, immediately take the pan off the heat. If you heat much higher, you will burn the candy and this is such a sad thing as the burnt taste is impossible to mask and you just have to start over. 

Pour the toffee onto a sheet of wax paper. It should be 3-5 cm (1/4 inch) thick. Use the back of a spoon to spread if necessary. Toffee will have a glossy, buttery appearance - this is normal. 

Step 4: Sprinkle 1 cup of chocolate chips (you can use chips or chunks. For this time, I used a combination of 1/2 c. dark chocolate chips and 1/2 c. Bakers semi-sweet chocolate chunks) on top of the hot toffee, see the opening photo. Allow to sit for a few minutes. When the chocolate looks shiny, use your spatula and spread the chocolate evenly over the surface. 

Step 5: Sprinkle with your favourite nuts - in this case, I used Planters chopped walnuts, but you can also use pecans. I highly recommend lightly toasting the nuts if you have time to really deepen the flavor. Lightly press into the chocolate.

Allow the toffee and chocolate to cool/harden (you may need to place in the refrigerator for a few minutes to get the chocolate hard).  Break into small pieces and keep in an airtight container. 


Step 6: The easiest bit - cleaning the sticky pan.  I normally dread this part because making caramel is always a mess. BUT - if you just add some soapy water to the pan, bring it to a boil and then let the boiling action melt away the sugary mess, all you have to do is dump out the very hot water (be careful!) and give the pan a rinse and you are done.  You will thank me when you see how easy this is and now have one less excuse for making my favorite toffee.

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