My faith in humanity (and my candy-making skillz) has been restored and I owe it all to an unassuming candy thermometer, purchased at Crate&Barrel in a last-ditch effort to reclaim my sanity. You see, I’ve been burned (literally & figuratively) in the past by shoddy candy thermometers. Burned real bad. And it’s taken me weeks to muster up the mojo to try that most tempestuous of the candy family… toffee.
Strangely enough, my first attempt at sea salt caramels (which were brutally thwarted by the aforementioned evil/defective thermometer) yielded results pretty close to toffee. It had a disgustingly burnt flavor and was just a little too hard to chew comfortably, but still… it was toffee-ish and made me think that perhaps, with the right equipment, I might just be able to pull this off!
So I gave it a shot… here’s my version of English Toffee…
It all starts with butter. 1 cup worth…
Crushed up 1/2 cup of de-shelled & de-skinned pistachios using Lauriebot’s patented Ziploc-Ladle Procedure.
And measured out 1 cup of white sugar. I debated using the superfine, but really, what’s the point? It all gets melted down pretty quickly and I had an obscene amount of granulated white sugar (thanks to a ridiculous sale at Safeway), so I figured I’d keep it old school.
Preheated the oven to 350F and lightly toasted my crushed pistachios in a single layer for about 5 minutes.
Once they were toasty & fragrant, I pulled them out o’ the oven and let them cool on a rack. Then it was time to get down to business with this toffee situation.
First I combined the sugar and the butter in a saucepan, along with 2 tbsp of water…
And gently melted it over medium heat.
Next, I clipped my lovely candy thermometer onto the side of my saucepan and settled in for the long haul, slowly heating the butter & sugar mixture over medium heat until it reached 305F, stirring occasionally (because this bitch will scorch your Calphalon)!
Oh, and word of caution… once you start getting up in the higher temperatures (above 275F or so), things start darkening and bubbling very quickly and you’ll probably think you’re burning the whole thing to hell! But don’t be scared, just keep it going until you get to your destination temperature… just keep on keepin’ on!
Once my pot of molten pre-toffee reached 305F, I immediately removed it from the heat, stirred in a generous teaspoonful of vanilla extract and poured the whole thing into my prepared (lined with wax paper) 8×8″ pan. Because I used a pretty small pan, my toffee was pretty thick – if you prefer a thinner bark, best to go with a bigger pan, like a 10×10″.
Just let it cool and harden… took mine about an hour!
It was lookin’ good and smelling even better, but it wasn’t done quite yet… Must add chocolate!
Broke up 6 oz of premium dark chocolate…
Melted it down in my double boiler situation.
And spread the warm chocolate over the cooled toffee!
Pressed the toasted pistachios into the chocolate…
And let it set until the chocolate hardened (about an hour and a half)!
Then I just popped the toffee out of the pan, using the wax paper overhang as handles, and chopped it up into chunks! Mmm… buttery and melty, with just the perfect texture (read: you won’t crack a crown trying to enjoy this confection!)… yay!
English Toffee w/ Dark Chocolate & Pistachios!
Recipe adapted from Ghiradelli…