Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Holiday Recipe Swap: The Amazing Bristol Road Kitchens Toffee

Hey Rachel

As I was putting this post together, I remembered something that I forgot to mention when we kicked off our virtual holiday recipe swap with the post about my dad and his amazing homemade candy. He was a severe diabetic when he first made this candy in his retirement years. In other words, he couldn't even eat it and yet he made batches and batches of it for me and my sister and others. I'm not saying a piece never passed his lips, but it just struck me how much it was a labor of love in its most pure form. The only thing he got from making this amazing candy was the enjoyment of watching people he loved eat it.

I can't remember if you've made this candy yet — I know you regularly make some of our other holiday dishes — but some day when you make this for Miss M and she smiles eating it — because there is no other option — be sure to tell her about Pop Pop and the story of the candy. You were only a few days from your third birthday when he died so you don't remember him. But now you know how much he loved to cook and how much he cooked with love.

Bristol Road Kitchens Toffee
makes one pan (which is never enough, by the way)

2 cups butter
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
16 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped almonds
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds

Line a rimmed 15 1/2" X 10 1/2" baking pan with a rim with foil. Leave an edge you can grab. This makes it easy to A)take the candy out to break it later and B) clean the pan.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the sugar, salt, corn syrup and water. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. Then lower the heat and boil slowly without stirring until the candy thermometer shows 290 degrees. This takes anywhere from 30-45 minutes. Some words of caution: Once the thermometer reaches about 270, it moves very quickly to 290 and if you aren't paying attention, you will miss your moment AND you will scorch your pan — irreparably. I speak from experience.

Remove from the heat, add the vanilla — it will sputter — and the coarse chopped nuts and stir. Then pour into the pan and let cool until the candy is hard. (I put mine in the garage but you may have a bigger refrigerator than I do.)

After the candy is hard — usually after a couple of hours — melt the chocolate in a saucepan. Spread it over the toffee and sprinkle the finely chopped almonds over the top. Let cool again.

When the candy is hard, take it out of the pan and break into bite-size pieces. You will need to keep it refrigerated or in your garage if you're like me and live somewhere cold. Making it harder to reach is just as well because it gives you a little exercise as you walk over to get your bazillionth piece. Enjoy!

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