Chocolate Butter Toffee
2 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt1
1/2 cups sugar 3 tablespoons water 1 tablespoon light corn syrup 1
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
11/2 cups pecans, toasted and diced2 cups good-quality semisweet chocolate chips
In a lightly greased, square 8x8-inch baking dish or sheet, spread half the nuts and top with half the chocolate. Set aside.
In a large, deep saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the sugar, water and corn syrup, and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil over medium heat until the mixture reaches hard-crack stage (300°F on a thermometer). The syrup will darken. Test a spoonful in ice water. It should immediately harden and be able to crack. This whole process should take about 10 to 12 minutes.
Pour quickly and evenly over the nuts and chocolate. Immediately top with the remaining chocolate, then the remaining nuts. Wait several minutes until the toffee hardens but the chocolate is melted, then use the back of a spatula to press down on the chocolate-nut layer to spread the chocolate around evenly. Let sit until chocolate hardens. Use a spatula to loosen it from the baking sheet and let cool. Break it into uneven chunks.
Adapted from “Dark Chocolate Buttercrunch” from King Arthur Flour.
Updated: March 27, 2014 6:21AM
Some might argue that giving food as a gift is an easy cop-out, a sidestep to spending money and time on a real present.
But these aren’t the days of fruitcakes at Christmas anymore. Nor are they the days of Jell-o molds for housewarming parties or slow cooker meals for baby showers and church gatherings. No, in those days, the food wasn’t ever really a gift but instead, a donation. It came, it was eaten, and the slightly surly combination of flavors conquered all.
Today’s homesteading individual would disagree that food can’t be a gift. Edible works of art often cost more money, more time — and most importantly — more thought than any store-bought gift. A true gifter planning a homespun present loves the challenge of creating something special and, of course, delicious.
So instead of a fruitcake or Jell-o mold, expect a box of macarons primped in pretty pastels, a jar of bacon jam bundled in craft paper and twine, or a pound of hand-pressed cheese aged and heartwarmingly fostered for 30 days or more.
The gifts don’t have to be overly ambitious, though. Some recipes, like this one for chocolate butter toffee, voice sophistication and drudgery, but require minimal work and time. It’s rich and when made with fine-quality ingredients, it tastes rich, too.
A toffee recipe is easy to prepare — butter, salt, water and corn syrup boil together quickly. It’s not as fussy as a caramel recipe, which requires removal from the heat at just the right temperature.
Toffee is a little more lenient. The hard-crack stage seems to linger on the mercury for a while and is a little bit easier to detect when strewn in a glass of ice water. But despite its simplicity, when this toffee is enrobed in semisweet chocolate and crushed roasted pecans, it takes on the alias of something classy — something completely gift-worthy.
The flavor of Heath bars comes to mind, only the ingredients make this toffee taste so much better. And its versatility is inexhaustible. Cracked into inch-long pieces, it’s a terrific finger food. Crushed into even smaller pieces, this toffee can be tossed into ice cream, frosting, pancake batter or sprinkled on top of the whipped cream on a steamy mug of hot cocoa.
Just a gift? Hardly. This is a gift that has multiple gifts.