The Art of Toffee Making
the simple approach-
Even the most avid cook or baker, may be a little intimidated by candy making, especially Toffee. It isn't as bad as you may think. Just be patient-it's well worth the effort!
First, you need the right kind of pan. You do NOT want to use a non-stick saucepan, they don't provide even heat. I have a nice heavy aluminum medium saucepan pot that is just the right size for one batch. Your ingredients will double in size as it gets bubbling and the water from the butter burns off. You will also need ; Candy thermometer(hopefully not cheap), a flat wooden spoon, and a 9 x 13 cookie sheet.
1c. white sugar
1c. brown sugar
1lb. of butter
1c. chocolate chips
A lot of recipes call for water, salt, vanilla, and also omit the brown sugar. Mine, however, for the last 25 years have been the aforementioned recipe that has provided me a lot of friends!
You want to melt the pound of butter(4-sticks) in the pan over medium heat, yes, I know everyone says low heat-I'm a rebel! Dump the brown sugar and the white sugar right along with the butter. Now stir over medium heat until you see your mixture looking thick and blended. The water from the butter should have burned off. Now, walk away, yes- it will be fine....
Now this is where candy experts may disagree with me. But they aren't me now, are they? They want you to wait to add the chocolate chips after the toffee is cooling and throw them on the toffee and spread the mixture as it's melting. Nah...that's too much work! Instead, throw (do you like my terms?) 1 c. of chocolate chips on a UNGREASED-cookie sheet. Then dump (with the chips) about a 1/2 c. of chopped nuts; walnuts, pecans, peanuts, etc. If you like nuts, then you do your thing. Me? If you look at the picture of my toffee in this article- it was with toffee coated nuts! I'm that good.
Now get the heck back to the stove top. Start stirring periodically and see it turning before your eyes into a rich, thick, caramel color. Insert your high quality candy thermometer.If you are going to make Toffee, you can't skimp on the candy thermometer- you don't want to fudge(that's another topic) with your hard ball stage. You want the toffee to get to almost 300 degrees(150C). Now, this is where experience comes into play. You really have to watch your thermometer, attach it to the pan BUT DON'T LET IT HIT THE BOTTOM-make sure your guy is treading water (well, ok, toffee..)- in getting the correct temp. Once it reaches to about 285 and you notice the toffee is following your every move with the wooden spoon, then soon and maybe even by the time it reaches 295C, take it off the heat NOW and work fast.
Okay, here we go again, the experts will say use a spatula in quickly spooning out the mixture onto the cookie sheet, OR maybe will tell you to use parchment. Not needed. I promise.
Pour your toffee in a nice, smooth fashion over your chocolate chips and nuts, making sure all gets covered. If you have used a over sized cookie sheet by mistake, no worries, just keep the mixture close together with no air pockets. For your next batch, you'll be that much smarter.
Let your toffee cool, well... in a cool place- I honestly, wouldn't do the fridge. I know, I know, some say to put it in the fridge. I don't like the idea. You see, you are leaving it in a fridge with moisture and the ability to take it out of the hardball stage. Me? I leave it in the pan, on my kitchen island and I wait.... about 1hr. later- I take a butter knife, stab where ever you want to and you take it from there. You can create the sizes you desire. Just put it in an airtight container, that nests in a cool, dark, place. Now, don't be silly and think it will last forever-you don't want to put it away for months! Give away as gifts, have this great candy on your cookie tray for Christmas, or even crumble it in fine pieces and sprinkle over ice cream!