English Toffee

It’s been one of those push-push-push yourself weeks. I decided to challenge myself by committing to a few more projects, but they all converged this week–along with my birthday–and I had to set some limits. Including taking my birthday off to just enjoy the day and all the wonderful food that was a part of it, between the party my awesome coworkers threw for me, the stuffed pepper party other coworkers hosted at lunchtime, and dinner and cake with my family. It was a day to celebrate me, and celebrate I did, quite thoroughly!

But now it’s time to get back on track, even if my butt is dragging a bit. I decided for this week’s edition of Meal Planning Magic‘s 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats that I would go with something that’s relatively quick and doesn’t take a lot of dishes. Because I know I’m not the only one who needs a go-to sweet that you can turn to when you have no more go left in you.

Not Quite English Toffee

Other than the stirring, there isn’t a whole lot you have to do with toffee. Toss the sugar, butter, and salt in the pot, attach the candy thermometer once all the sugar is dissolved, and stir until it reaches the right temperature. It’s pretty mindless, which can be a good thing when you’re trying to watch TV while finishing up your recipe. Not that I would do that or anything. You know, just in case.

For my family birthdays party last month, one of my brothers gave me a bottle of Pinnacle Cookie Dough Vodka. (My other brother gave me Kraken Black Spiced Rum… does that mean something?) Given the success of putting Frangelico in my Bacon Toffee last year, I thought a shot of Cookie Dough Vodka couldn’t hurt. I toasted some walnuts for the topping, since that reminded me more of chocolate chip cookies than using the typical pecans. A slight hint of cookie dough flavor comes through, but it isn’t strong. I’m not sure if it made a difference or if it’s psychosomatic, but I’m not complaining. And I doubt anyone I’d give this to would complain either.

Not Quite English Toffee
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Candy
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups turbinado (raw) sugar
  • ½ teaspoon Himalayan pink salt, ground fine
  • 2 Tablespoons cookie dough flavored vodka
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped walnut, toasted
Instructions
  1. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with foil or parchment backed foil and set aside.
  2. Place the butter, sugar, and salt in a large, heavy-bottomed sauce pan (I used one of my Le Creuset enameled cast iron pieces) over medium to medium-high heat.
  3. Swirl around the mixture but try not to stir it until the sugar is dissolved.
  4. Once the sugar is dissolved, attach a calibrated candy thermometer to your saucepan and begin stirring.
  5. Stir, stir, and stir. You'll be stirring the whole time, so get comfortable.
  6. Once the mixture reaches hard crack stage (it's marked on my candy thermometer at 320 degrees Fahrenheit, but I believe the general consensus is somewhere between 300 and 310 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on your source), remove from heat.
  7. Add the vodka and step back for a moment--it WILL bubble up fiercely.
  8. Stir vigorously to incorporate the vodka, then pour into the prepared pan, tilting the pan around after to ensure even distribution.
  9. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top and leave them be for 2-3 minutes.
  10. Using an offset spatula, spread the now-melted chocolate chips evenly over the surface.
  11. Sprinkle the walnuts over the melted chocolate.
  12. Let sit until chocolate is set again, which could take some time. You can also pop it in your refrigerator after an hour or two to help speed it up a bit.
  13. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Notes
You need to be very careful in your stirring that you do not introduce an environment where the sugar will crystallize during the cooking. That's why it's important to try not to stir until the sugar dissolves and to not insert the candy thermometer until then either. If some sugar does start to crystallize on the walls of the pan in the beginning, you can wash it down with a wet pastry or silicone brush, but scraping will only aid in the crystallization and then you'll end up with an odd texture.

What other great ideas do we have for you this week in planning for Christmas?

12 Weeks of Christmas Treats 2012


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