And the sprint begins……Now that Thanksgivukkah is over here at the farm, we have only three weeks until Christmas. We also have a few family birthdays, a party to throw, and many to attend, in just 22 days. Yikes! Of course, these events are a delight. Even with the craziness of the holidays, time with friends and celebrating together is something to treasure. The only challenge with all these events is figuring out what to bring as a gift…but Carolyn (like always) has us covered.
We will bring wine and/or spirits for those who like such things (and, shockingly, many of our friends do like a bit o’ booze) but we often give things we make here at the farm. A lot of Putney Farm jam and fruit butters will be doled out over the next few weeks, and they will be quite tasty (IMHO). But if you are extra-lucky, Carolyn will bring you some home-made toffee. This my friends is the good stuff.
And not nearly as hard to make as you think. Toffee requires only a few common ingredients, one special tool and a little patience. Basically, if you can read a candy thermometer (or a thermocouple digital thermometer), you can make toffee. And if you mess up, it will still taste pretty good, and you get to try another batch. A fun holiday project and a perfect gift. (Who doesn’t like sugar, butter and chocolate?)
We also get the added benefit of our friend Scott making Christmas Toffee. Scott and Carolyn compare notes to help each other out, and each year the toffee gets a little better. (I also think there may be a bit of a quiet competition going on, but since the kids and I reap the benefits, we aren’t complaining.)
As far as making the toffee it is a simple as crushing almonds, melting butter and sugar in some water and waiting for the mixture to hit the right temperature. Then you spread out some of the almonds, cover with the sugar mixture and then put chocolate chunks on top. The chocolate melts, you spread it and then sprinkle with a bit of good salt (Maldon is nice, you can use kosher salt in a pinch) and add the rest of the almonds. Let the toffee cool overnight (waiting is, by far, the hardest part) and then break it up, package it and deliver some happiness to your friends. Easy…just don’t eat it all yourself.
Notes Before You Start:
- Toffee recipes will have you target a temperature from 285 F up to 300 F. Lower temperatures give you “blonder”, chewy toffee, while higher temps will give you a darker, more crumbly toffee. We like the color a bit lighter, but this recipe/method works with darker toffee. Most “darker” toffees have you target 298 F. Pick your temperature.
- The key to all candy making is that you must have all of your prep done beforehand. Candy is temperature sensitive and will not wait for you to prep at the last-minute. It only takes a few seconds to ruin a batch. Be sure you are ready to go.
- The recipe works for a 9×13 pan, but it is easier to remove the toffee from a larger sheet pan.
- Hot candy burns like napalm. Use oven mitts when needed, and if cooking with kids, be careful.
What You Get: A special holiday treat and a great party gift.
What You Need: A candy thermometer or a digital thermocouple thermometer (quick-read).
How Long? A (very easy) day. About 45 minutes of active time. Then you let the toffee cool overnight.
(Makes 1, 9x 13 pan of toffee)
- 2 cups (10 oz.) raw almonds
- 9 oz. semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
- 2 cups superfine sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup, 8 oz. butter
- Finishing or Kosher salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the almonds on a sheet pan and toast in the oven until fragrant, 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Roughly chop the almonds by hand or in a food processor.
- Thoroughly butter a 9×13 (or larger) sheet pan. Spread half of the almonds on the pan. Set aside. Reserve the rest of the almonds.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, water, butter and teaspoon of salt. Clip on your candy thermometer (or have your digital ready) Place over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook until the mixture reaches 285 F degrees, then remove from heat. Immediately pour the mixture over the almonds in the sheet pan.
- Spread the chocolate chunks over the hot sugar mixture. Let sit five minutes, the chocolate will melt. Spread chocolate over sugar mixture with a spatula. Then lightly dust with finishing salt. Sprinkle the remaining half of the almonds over the chocolate.
- Let the toffee cool and set overnight. To serve the toffee, bend the sheet pan and/or use a spatula to remove the toffee. Break into pieces. Serve.
- Send Us Your Suggestions: The Best Toffee in America – The Kitchn (apartmenttherapy.com)
- Simply Homemade: Butter Toffee (fiveintow.com)
- Apple and toffee crumble tart recipe (telegraph.co.uk)
- Candy Cane Pop Rock Pecan Toffee (daydreamerdesserts.com)
- Treacle toffee (ivegotknits.wordpress.com)
- Sweet and Easy Toffee (sweetenufblog.wordpress.com)
- Experiments in Candy-Making (thr3elittlebirds.wordpress.com)
- Enstrom World Famous Almond Toffee (jaimelabeaute.com)