I delight in AJ’s lovely blog Handjobs for the Home, and we’ve been chit-chatting about working together for a while. Lucky for us, AJ has a family toffee recipe that should be on your cookie swap rotation. Please give a warm welcome to AJ! -Maggie
The cold weather is rushing into New York like a big ol’ tornado. One day it’s 60 degrees and the next it barely reaches 40. I pulled my pea coat out of the closet yesterday and welcomed the cold weather with warm scarves and mittens. Yup, it’s true. It’s officially winter.
I always hear my fellow North Easterners complaining about how much they loath the cold weather, but I cherish it. That is when there isn’t feet upon feet of snow on the ground–though that can be charming in its own way too. As long as you’re snowed in with someone you like, and have a bounty of treats for noshing.
The winter is great for many reasons. For me it means enjoying all the hard sweaty work I put into preserves over the summer, drinking illegal amounts of hot chocolate, and eating bowl after bowl of warm soups and stews. I like to think of it as human hibernation. But the part I like most is that laid back, cozy feeling that’s always floating around the house. The weekends move slower, and some days I never managed to get out of my hooded sweatshirt and slippers. It’s weekends like these that I find myself craving a good foodie project.
I’ve never been a huge fan of gummy chewy candies. I’m more of a savory person in general. However chocolate is a totally other beast. If you don’t like chocolate, I really don’t think we can be friends. Yup, I said it. Now that that’s cleared up, we’re going to talk toffee. It’s one of those comforting sweet treats that I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of. My aunt makes it every year and gives it as gifts, so this year I decided it was my turn to give it a try.
The biggest piece of advice I will give to you novice candy makers out there is that weather is everything. For some strange reason you absolutely, positively, cannot make any kind of candy when it’s raining, snowing, or humid outside. It just doesn’t turn out right. Don’t ask me why, because I’ll respond, “just ‘cause.” So if you’re planning on making candy this year for gifts, check the weather station before you start boiling sugar. Another important part of candy making is temperature. You’re going to need one of those pesky candy thermometers for sure. Without the right temperature your candy will turn into a hot mess, literally. For toffee, it’s 290 degrees F. It allows the candy to make a clean crack-snap as opposed to chewy and stringy.
So now that cliff notes on candy making go check the weather channel and let’s get to work.
Homemade English Toffee
- 1 lb. butter
- 2 ½ cups granular sugar
- 1 cup water
- 4 Tbs. Karo syrup
- 2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
- 2, 16 oz bags of dark chocolate chips (1 bag melted)
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- Spread 1 lb. melted chocolate in the bottom of a cookie sheet with sides.
- In stainless steel pot mix butter, sugar, water, syrup, and nuts over medium high heat stirring constantly (I’m serious, do not step away from this pot for even a minute).
- Boil until it reaches 290 degrees F on a candy thermometer. This will take about 45 minutes.
- When the toffee is cooked, pour on top of the chocolate and spread evenly. Sprinkle the second bag of chocolate chips over top the hot toffee mixture. Allow the chips to sit for a minute or two until they are glossy and spread evenly with a spatula.
- Sprinkle additional ½ cup of walnuts on top of the chocolate.
- Refrigerate for at least 5 hours.
- Break apart and enjoy!
Note: Toffee freezes incredibly well. If you want, you can make a batch, break it up and then store it in an airtight container in the freezer for some winter munching, or give it away as a perfect gift for the holidays!
All photos styled and taken by AJ Simone.
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