After almost 4 months of living in Charleston, things are finally coming together. This past weekend I dragged my fiancé to Home Goods, Pier 1 and Target all so I could get more necessities for the kitchen, obviously. A madeleine pan? Duh. A tiny chalkboard to write cute kitchen sayings? Absolutely. Then this got us talking. This is the first time we have had to buy a table runner, placemats, a vacuum. Gosh, when we were younger, the whole "I can't wait to grow up" thing seemed much cooler! Of course I love living with a man who will clean up after I spill a cup of sprinkles on the floor or not judge me too hard when my afternoon snack is ice cream and cookies, but getting overly excited to go to Pier 1 and purchase napkins, who am I?! Although my new adult life isn't all that bad, after a day of buying bulk paper towels and clorox wipes, I needed something that would take me back to being a little girl, when the last thing on my mind was doing laundry. So here is this toffee recipe, something that brings me right back to my childhood. This recipe is simple, tasty, and worth the time it takes to cook the sugar from 0-302F. I promise that once you begin to smell the delicious caramel aroma, you'll be daydreaming about the good old 90's!
Toffee brings back so many great memories for me. As a little girl, my grandma would always have cans full of it, which I would of course sneak as snacks when she wasn't looking. Growing up, never did cooking sugar to make candy cross my mind, but when I got to culinary school, I was beyond excited to learn. One of the classes that we took during the second year was a Chocolate and Confections course, which was probably the most difficult, intimidating, fascinating and rewarding class in my two years at the CIA. Our chef was beyond passionate about any and all things sugar, pushing us to want to know about what we were making, why the ingredients reacted the way that they did, not only that adding a+b= a delicious c. We would make hundreds of truffles, learning how to make them look and taste flawless. We would cook sugar until it became a perfectly smooth caramel. To this day, I've gained the most from my intense, yet genius, chef, and this recipe will be the first of many that you, too, will learn of his!
Sugar--21 oz, or 2 7/8 C
Butter--9 oz, or 2 sticks+2 TBL
Brown Sugar--5.5 oz, 3/4 C+1 TBL
Corn Syrup--5.5 oz, or 1/2 C
Sweetened Condensed Milk--5.5 oz, or 1/2 C
Salt--0.5 oz, or 2 tsp
Vanilla Extract--0.5 oz, or 3.5 tsp
The corn syrup (or glucose) is known as a "doctor." This will help in preventing crystallization of the sugars, which is a problem when you're trying to dissolve all of the sugars and cook the water out! You certainly don't want any lumps in this smooth, wonderful toffee.
Take a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper that is about 12" long and spray with non-stick spray. Set aside.
Combine the sugars, butter, corn syrup, sweetened condensed milk, and salt in a heavy saucepan. Once you stir this mixture, it should look like wet sand!
Using your thermometer, cook until it reaches 302F/150C. You must stir constantly so the sugar does not burn!
If you find that there is any sugar crystals on the sides of your pan, use a wet pastry brush to get rid of them. Any of those crystals can drop into the sugar you're working so hard on and will become a problem! You'll start to see big lumps of sugar that won't go away, so you can prevent it!
Fun Fact: when you cook sugar, the water is simply evaporating from the mixture, which in turn cooks the sugar.
Once it reaches the appropriate temperature, you may think that it has become too dark, but I promise it's where you want it! Take off of the heat and add the vanilla.
Pour into the foil or parchment that you had gotten ready first.
Let the toffee harden before you break it into smaller pieces!
Store in an airtight container (or cans!) at room temperature. This is so good, anyone will want to sneak it for some snacks!
Note: Adding salt to this as it cools gives it a great contrasting flavor to the sweet toffee! Or if you want a subtle flavor, drizzle some melted dark chocolate over it after you break it but before separating the pieces.
I hope that this will inspire you to break out your thermometer and not be afraid of sugar! Don't worry, I'm not going to have you dipping your hands in the boiling hot sugar (yet!), that'll be for a later date my friends!
Inspired by Chocolate and Confections by Peter Greweling