I love, love, love English Toffee. I printed this recipe from Ghirardelli years ago and just now got up the courage to try my hand at ‘confection’ making. According to the red line on my new candy thermometer, I’ll be in the confection stage. I can do this!
Butter, sugar, water and salt go into a heavy bottom pot. The mixture is cooked over medium heat until it reaches the ‘Hard Crack’ stage. Having no idea how long this would take I kept a close watch, stirring occasionally. Minutes passed and the sugar mixture came to a nice rolling boil. So I kept stirring, watching the hand on the thermometer in anticipation. Much to my dismay the temp. was barely increasing, yet after about 15 minutes my sugar mixture began to turn a dark brown. I bailed out on the thermometer and poured the mixture onto my prepared pan. While I waited for it to cool, I did a little ‘toffee research’ and came upon this article from Joy of Baking. Key words in bold that stood out…. “without stirring.” Seems I was tricking my thermometer into thinking my mixture was cooler than it was.
The pan on the right, batch #1….essence of burnt sugar. Lesson learned. After adjusting my method and ‘not stirring’ my second batch, the pan on the left was perfect.
Once the toffee has cooled to room temperature, melted chocolate and a generous sprinkle of chopped walnuts are spread on top. It was then that I proclaimed “Babe, come quick…I think I just made English Toffee.”
I delivered the toffee to work today to Share the Love with our customers. It’s become a tradition each year to send as many customers as possible a tin of home baked treats from all of us.
- 8 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet baking chocolate
- ¾ cup walnuts, finely chopped
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 Tbl. water
- ⅛ tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast the chopped walnuts on a baking sheet for 6-8 minutes. Reserve.
- Line a baking sheet with heavy foil, folded with a 1-inch high edge. Reserve.
- In a heavy bottom saucepan, cook the butter, sugar, water and salt over medium heat until the temperature reaches 305 degrees (hard-crack stage), without stirring. This will take about 15 minutes. If the sugar mixture begins browning unevenly give the pan a swirl. Keep a close eye on it once it reaches 290 degrees as the temperature will increase quickly.
- Remove the pan from the heat and immediately stir in the vanilla extract. Pour the mixture onto the foil lined baking sheet and allow it to spread. Cool at room temperature for 45 minutes.
- Melt chocolate according to package instructions. Spread melted chocolate over cooled toffee, then sprinkle with walnuts. Let set at room temperature until the chocolate has set. Break toffee into pieces. Store covered at room temperature.
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