I’m going rogue here and starting the New Year with a candy recipe. But it’s not really a departure for me; I haven’t posted a salad recipe as the first New Year entry since 2013. This recipe seems like a good way to start anew. I have been away from my little site for a while, much too long, in fact. So what’s in store for 2018? It will be much the same: I will write about what I like to cook, I won’t focus too much on the personal or political, and I will try to continue to add interesting, unique, and delicious recipes to my Red Binder archives. So, let’s get started. I made batches of this toffee before Christmas and gifted it to many friends as the season progressed. It’s easy to make and it looks lovely in a cute little box or tin, adorned with ribbon and a bow.
After the basic ingredients of butter and sugar, the toppings are up to you. Use almonds, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, or macadamia nuts. Dark, milk, and even white chocolate make the coating perfectly delicious. Add coconut flakes, sea salt, even a few pink peppercorns if you’re so inclined. In other words, use your imagination and what you have on hand in your pantry.
The most important detail in making candy is the temperature of the sugar mixture. Toffee needs to be between 290°F and 300°F when you pour it into the pan. If it’s not cooked sufficiently, it will be chewy instead of crisp and crunchy. Overcooking will yield a bitter and burnt result. Get yourself a candy or instant-read thermometer and monitor the temperature of the boiling sugar and butter. Once it’s ready, remove it from the heat immediately and set to work crafting your chocolate and nut-embellished toffee. The results are worth the little bit of extra care and attention. When it’s done, package it up and share amongst your favorite people. Enjoy! Happy New Year!
English Toffee with Chocolate and Nuts
Old-fashioned English-style toffee, embellished with lots of chocolate and toasted nuts, coconut flakes, and flaky salt. Delicious, easy to make, and great for hostess gifts.
- 1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup or 4 ounces)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/4 cups toasted, chopped nuts, divided (use pecans, walnuts, almonds or a combination of your favorites)
- 1 1/4 cups chocolate chips (use dark, milk or a combination of choclate chips, including a little white chocolate)
- Flaky sea salt (optional)
- Toasted coconut chips (optional)
Line a 9x12-inch sheet pan with parchment paper (or use a non-stick pan). Arrange half the toasted nuts in an 8x10-inch rectangle on the sheet pan. Sprinkle half the chocolate chips over the nuts.
Combine the butter, granulated and brown sugars, kosher salt, and 2 Tablespoons of water in a large heavy saucepan (preferably non-stick). Cook over medium-high heat, monitoring the temperature all the while, until the mixture is deep golden brown and the thermometer registers 300°F. Remove the pot from the heat and carefully stir in the vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda over the surface and stir just to blend.
Working quickly pour the mixture over the nut and chocolate rectangle on the sheet pan. Spread the mixture to smooth if needed. Immediately sprinkle on the remaining chocolate chips. Let stand for a few minutes, then spread the chocolate evenly over the toffee with an offset spatula. Sprinkle on the remaining nuts and press gently onto the softened chocolate. Sprinkle on the sea salt, coconut flakes, or any other embellishments you have chosen to add. Allow the candy to cool completely (at least two hours). When ready to serve or package, break into large, irregular shards. Toffee can be stored airtight at room temperature for several days, or frozen for longer storage.
Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine.