Last week I had "Baking Day" with my best friend, Melissa! It is one of my favorite Christmas traditions. We have been doing this for about the 10 years and we start planning for it at least month in advance. We have made everything from Banket to Haystacks. We usually have a variety of treats to make and the kitchen looks like a tornado at the end of the day with us looking as exhausted and messy as Ethel and Lucy in the chocolate factory. But this year we decided just to make our toffee because we wanted to enjoy our 2 toddler princesses running around in kitchen. Toffee is not too messy and it makes up fairly quickly into an amazing treat and we only had one pot going at once so we could switch off duties. We even finished before my husband came home to take us out to dinner (the traditional ending of our day). It was great!
We changed our recipe this year and both agreed that it was the most amazing toffee ever. Which means I need to share it with y'all. The difference is in the amount of salt used this year. We have been tweaking this for 4 years and I think we have perfected it. Instead of using 2 tsp., I used 1 T. I was a little hesitant to use so much, but I told Melissa I was thinking about it and thought it would be good. She agreed and told me to go for it. Right as I was about to tip it in, I looked at her again and said, "You know, this is how you and I have come to a lot of crazy decisions." (We have a tendency to believe that if the other says something, it must be well thought out and therefor true. So, we encourage the other forward. Bolstered by this support we proceed forward in perfect confidence to do sheer nonsense. It is a cycle we have inacted for 16 years.) She laughed and said, "Your right, but I think you should." So I did. This time we were right! It's the best ever!
This makes about 5.5lbs and can be halved if you like. We make goods for a lot of people, so our recipe is for a large amount. 1/2 lbs bags make for a very nice treat! We made 22 lbs.
4 cups of butter
4 cups of sugar
1 T salt
1 T pure vanilla extract
2 cups (4oz.) of Chocolate
(We use the Ghirardelli 60% Cocoa Chips. They are fabulous!)
1 lbs of unsalted nuts from the baking aisle
(We use whole pecans. You can use less if you need to.)
1. We toast our nuts lightly in a sauce pan before we cook the toffee to increase the nutty flavor, but you can leave them untoasted. Lay your nuts over about a yard of parchment paper or 2.5" of freezer paper to prepare it for the toffee to be poured on.
2. In a 5qt or larger pot, melt the butter. Then add in the sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat. Stirring as the sugar melt into the butter. Allow it come to a boil, and cook until the mixture becomes a dark amber color, and the temperature has reached 285 degrees F (137 degrees C). If you don't have a candy thermometer, get a cold glass of water (no ice) and drip a little into it. If it becomes a hard little ball it is ready. I don't need a thermometer any longer because I know what color it is ready at. Don't be afraid about perfection, each of our toffee's vary a little and I prefer mine a little darker (about 300 degrees F). They are all good. So relax & have fun!
3. Pour the mixture over your nuts. Allow it to set up 5-10 minutes and sprinkle on your chocolate chips. Allow them to sit for 5 minutes and smooth the chocolate over the top and allow it to harden. We sit ours outside for an hour or two to speed up the process.
4. Break it up and enjoy!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!