Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Home-made Toffee

I decided I wanted to make some toffee over a year ago, found this recipe, and made some. I made it again last Sunday, and wished I had made notes last time. The recipe is from "allrecipes":

Best Toffee Ever - Super Easy

Candy fresh from the fridge.
That first time, I skimmed through all the "allrecipes" comments, and decided to... make it exactly per the original instructions. I find it amazing how much people will alter a recipe before even trying it once per instructions! I recall that it came out well the first time I made it, but I couldn't find any notes on how it went, but I do recall: tasted great, stuck to my teeth more than desirable, I didn't taste the almonds much, and the chocolate that I used (Pete's Burgandy) was maybe overpowering the toffee.

My observations this time:

- I cooked it on "6", "5" being exactly the middle setting on my cooktop. At around maybe 250° I was getting little smokey puffs from the bubbles that worried me a bit, I think it was on the hairy edge of burning. But being late (somehow I seldom make candy before 10:00 pm), I didn't reduce the heat. Next time I think I will.
- The butter made a bothersome pool on top of the bubbling candy for most of the cooking time. I stirred gently the whole time. Towards the end, the bubbling of the candy miraculously overtook the pool of butter, and incorporated it all. :)
Same candy, "bloomed" chocolate
- I toasted slivered almonds, then lightly chopped them, and put them in the pan first. Once the candy reached specified temp (285°), I poured it over the almonds. I didn't have enough almonds, so used what I had.
- I used Nestle semi-sweet chunks (mostly because that's all I had). I found it interesting to watch the chocolate change color as it slowly melted. :)
- We cooled the pan in the fridge, per instruction, leaving it overnight because it was late and we fell asleep.
- In the morning, the toffee was very tender, kind of "crushy", almost not snappy enough but not chewy.
- Leaving it out on the counter loosely covered with foil all afternoon left it mildly tooth-sticking again, and after leaving it overnight on the kitchen counter wrapped in wax paper in a cookie tin, the chocolate "bloomed", looking funky on top. Not so lovely. I need to look into just what caused that.
- It tasted delicious. The chocolate was ok, but kind of just "there".

Next time:
Try taking it to 300°, as suggested by an allrecipes comment.
- Test the texture, starting at 285°, by dribbling some into a glass of water.
- Reduce the temp to 5 when it reaches 250°, to be more cautious about burning. 
- Toast the slivered almonds, chop lightly, and spread larger pieces in bottom of pan. Sprinkle smaller almond bits over chocolate.
- Keep refrigerated, or at least tightly covered. Hopefully the higher cooking temperature will help keep it snappy, too.
- Try  Hershey's Milk Chocolate Chips or Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips (both recommended by Cook's Illustrated)
- Add a touch more salt maybe?

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