Friday, December 4, 2009

You're Welcome

This toffee will be my gift to the world. I plan on giving it to most people I know for Christmas, but if you don't plan on dropping by my house this December you should at least plan on making some. It is devastatingly good, and I don't even like most dessert. It makes a beautiful gift when placed in a glass jar with a ribbon tied around it, and it keeps forever. At least, it would if it didn't disappear so quickly. Merry Christmas, world. Butter Pecan Toffee 3 cups white sugar 2 cups butter(don't panic, it makes a LOT of toffee) 2 1/2 cups chocolate chips or chopped chocolate pieces 1 cup toasted, finely chopped pecans, almonds, or walnuts Toast 1 1/2 cups of pecans(my favorite) on a baking sheet at 350 degrees for ten minutes. Cool and finely chop. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with tin foil so the bottom and ALL the sides have a ridge of tinfoil over them. The baking sheet I used was 12 x 20 and made for the perfect thickness. You may want to scale the recipe down a bit if your baking sheet is much smaller or the toffee will be so thick it will hurt to bite into it(reduce the sugar to 2 cups and the butter to 1 1/2 cups, the chocolate chips to 2 cups). In a large pot(preferably one with two handles, the kind you'd boil pasta in) over medium heat, melt the butter and sugar. When the butter is melted, reduce the heat to medium-low. Stirring constantly(get used to it), caramelize the sugar. This takes quite a while, but don't get discouraged and walk away; the window of perfection is small, so be patient and pay careful attention. The sugar will begin to melt and brown, turning first a kind of pinkish color not unlike your standard sheer nylons. You're not there yet. Keep stirring. The sugar will continue to cook, and as you stir you'll notice that ribbons of color will swirl up from the bottom. You don't have to stir terribly fast, just a nice, steady constant; you don't want the sugar to stay in one place too long or it will burn, so don't rush things but keep it moving. After 15 minutes or so, the sugar will start to melt and you'll notice that it looks a lot less granular. It should start to turn the color of caramel, the kind you cover an apple with. You're still not there yet. Keep stirring. This is where you want to start doing a lot of smelling, because the toffee will smell a certain way when it's on the verge of perfect. It will smell almost like it's burnt, but it shouldn't be yet. It should be a very rich, deep caramel color, much darker than the color of brown sugar and have no visible sugar granules in it. DO NOT stop stirring. The instant that the toffee appears to smoke very slightly(you're there! stop stirring!), pour it into your foil-lined baking tray(this is not a good activity for kids. It's also not a good activity to attempt by yourself if you have kids around. Mine were at the movies.). I've timed it, and you've got roughly 15 seconds where the toffee is scorching hot but not burned. The hotter you get it, the crunchier it will be once it cools. If you don't cook it long enough it will be gummy instead of brittle. Very carefully tilt the baking tray so the toffee reaches all corners. Immediately(do not delay, waste no time) scatter the chocolate chips over the hot toffee.
After about a minute, the chocolate chips will melt.
Using a spatula(a butter knife works, but it's much less satisfying), carefully smear the melted chocolate over the toffee. Don't worry about mixing them together, the toffee will be set enough to keep to itself. Once the chocolate is all spread out, sprinkle the chopped nuts on top and very gently press them into the chocolate with your hand(it won't be hot enough to burn you, but be careful not to press hard). You're not actually pressing the nuts down into the chocolate, just encouraging them to stick together. At this point, you can grab a pizza cutter and slice the whole sheet of toffee into squares before cooling, or: Let cool, either in the fridge or a cool place outside where it will be safe from children and squirrels. Depending on the temperature, it should take 30 minutes-1 hour to cool completely. Carefully lift up the giant brick of toffee glory you've just created and peel off the foil. It should come off cleanly; if not, your toffee is probably still warm. Break it into manageable pieces with your hands, then cut into smaller pieces on a cutting board.
Revel in your success.
Make sure you save the scraps for sprinkling over ice cream.
Notes: You can use any kind of chocolate you want, but I like the ease of chocolate chips. I once used expensive semi-sweet chocolate which I painstakingly chopped myself, and I actually preferred the flavor of chocolate chips so I figure why bother? Do not, under ANY circumstances, touch the toffee while it's hot. It will burn like you wouldn't believe. Hold the pan very close to the baking sheet when pouring, and go nice and slow. It doesn't really splatter because it's so thick, but there's no sense in taking chances. Do not use margarine. You will end up with a big soggy mess and no toffee.
For all my stern warnings about constant stirring and hotness, this recipe is actually quite easy. I only screwed it up the first time I made it, and after that it got better each time. If you get it wrong, it will be pretty obvious why and you most likely won't make the same mistake the second time around.

6 comments:

briana said...

So when do I get my jar?

Madeleine said...

Heeeey, need a babysitter anytime soon? ;) I just might eat up all your toffee!

Berns said...

Oh.My.Gosh. Wow this sounds good. Thanks!

laura said...

hannah and i will make some today. thank you for hooking me up.your a sweety. hee hee

*karen said...

Oh my God, you wouldn't believe how much I am craving toffee right now...

Tirzah said...

Actually Karen, I would totally believe you :) Some may just find its way into your soon-to-mailed package...