I live to eat and love to cook. Welcome to my life!

December 9, 2009

They call me Toffee Claus

I had a bright spark of inspiration a few nights ago and it led me on the path to another whirlwind day in the kitchen. Knowing that I might get goodies from friends for the holidays and taking heart to Brock's statement of "We need a tradition" I decided to spend the day making confections to hand out to a few of our family members and close friends.

I scoured my fridge & pantry to see what I had on hand, what I would have to buy and also took inventory of items that I could use up in alternate recipes.

Inspiration number one....My Mom's Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook 1953

Gooey caramel candy with just a little bit of sea salt (my updated addition) and crunchy butter toffee studded with various nuts.

Inspiration number two....the Ziploc bag of candied orange peel leftover from another baking day.

Almond Florentines with Candied Cherries & Orange Peel with a Smear of Dark Chocolate

Inspiration number three....a personal craving for more salty sweet stuff led me to find a recipe for pulled Salt Water Taffy.

After a quick trip to the market and a stop at the .99 cent store for packaging and I was set to go!

Round 1 was Pecan Toffee....perfection in itself!

Round 2 was batch one of the Caramel....too hot to taste, but it looked pretty damn good!

Round 3 was Almond Toffee....again, perfection!

Round 4 was batch two of the caramel...might have overcooked this one, gotta wait for it to set and find out.

Quick break to drop a sample of toffee for my friends at Ventura Rentals and to go visit my BFF who was having her own cookie day with her mama & sister in law....mmmmm....puppy chow and peanut butter kiss cookies!!

Back in the ring for....

Round 5 was a go at the Salt Water Taffy....Looked right, smelled good, colored pretty. But then I started pulling it, and pulling it, and pulling it....and then like some cartoon strong woman, I pulled so hard that it snapped! And I had pink, peppermint flavored rock candy scattered all over my kitchen floor. Arg.

It wasn't even good to eat, hard enough to break in pieces, but too chewy to eat without fear of losing multiple fillings. Toss in the trash and move on!

Quick check on the caramels revealed batch one as perfect as hoped and batch two overcooked and solidified in to a very pretty caramel colored tile. I guess I could give it to Brock for skeet shooting?

I was 3 and 2 at this point and not feeling as confident as I had earlier in the day.

Round 6 was the Almond Florentines, so lacy & pretty just begging for a coat of chocolate on the flat side!

Round 7 was another batch of caramel, I was NOT going to let it get to me!!! Crossing fingers all the same.

Got my groove on....it was perfect!

Round 8 was Cashew Toffee....damn I am getting GOOD at this toffee stuff!!!!

Round 9 was Pistachio Toffee at the request of my darling who's only complaint was that I didn't make enough. Gotta love that complaint. :)

Round 10 was all about packaging. Cutting the caramels in to 1" squares and then cutting the waxed paper to fit and THEN actually wrapping the little guys. Breaking the toffee in to reasonable sized pieces, counting the cookies to figure out how many everyone got....Then bag, bow, ribbon, ornament & tag.

Somewhere in between rounds 7 and 9 I browned some Italian Sausage and heated up some spaghetti sauce from the freezer for dinner too. Is it any wonder I was conked out on the couch shortly after I inhaled my dinner?

I love my new tradition and am looking forward to expanding it next year!

Crunchy Butter Toffee

1 C Sugar
1/4 C Water
1 Stick Butter
1/2 tsp salt

Cook all ingredients over medium high heat until it hits 285 (hard crack) and is a golden caramel color. Remove from heat immediately and stir in 1/2 cup of whatever chopped (salted or unsalted) nuts you have on hand.

Pour in to a very well buttered glass pan or on to buttered marble and let cool. Lift and break in to pieces.

You can also drizzle or smear with chocolate if you are so inclined!

Then if you are lucky like me you make puppy eyes at your boyfriend who will cheerfully deliver it to your loved ones since you have to work the next day.

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