Few things can top a homemade gift. Especially if they’re edible. Oh my, and if it has dark chocolate and buttery toffee involved? Count me in for the double win. I’ve kicked off the holiday baking season this past weekend and these little nuggets of goodness were checked off the “To Do List.”
Hand crafted gifts from the kitchen are special because they come from the heart. Anyone can go to the supermarket and grab a gift card off the rack, but personally, I find giving edible treats as gifts really brings a smile to family & friend’s faces. Baked treats also make great gifts for that hard-to-buy-for-boss too.
Getting back in the kitchen after my accident has really been therapeutic. The kitchen has always been my zen place, but this holiday season, I’m appreciating it even more. It’s still a bit difficult standing for long periods of time, but when I get fatigued or my legs tire of holding me up, I simply pull up a chair and carry on. But enough about my wonky broken knee, let’s talk about this easy scrumptious recipe.
Toffee is easier to make than you might think. All you really need is a tried and true candy thermometer and a few minutes to stand by the stove. And buttah! A lot of buttah!
The trick to getting it right is not stirring after it reaches a certain temperature and cooking the sugar and butter mixture to the crack stage, which is 295 degrees. Comes out perfect every time. Another little tip is to have all your ingredients and baking utensils lined up and ready to go. Once you pour the toffee mixture, it sets pretty quickly, so you’ll want to move fast.
My recipe calls for cashews, but you can use any type of nuts your heart desires. I had planned on using some pretzels along with this batch, but in between buying the pretzels and a week of work and waiting for the weekend to roll around, I ate the whole damn bag! But that’s ok, because this toffee with the cashew and dark chocolate combination came out so delicious. The mister can’t keep his hands out of the bag whenever he goes into the fridge! I’m sure I’ll be making another batch before I even have a chance to make up my holiday baskets.
Here’s what you’ll need: I always advise that you read through the recipe at least once, especially since the toffee sets fairly quickly. Reading through allows you to mentally process all the steps and ensures the best possible recipe outcome.
- 3 sticks salted butter
- 1½ cups brown sugar ( I use organic)
- 3 tablespoons water
- 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla (***optional)
- ½ cup Hershey's dark chocolate chips
- 1 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup cashew pieces
- Heavy bottom sauce pot
- Candy thermometer (not required, but handy ****can use a glass of ice water to test)
- Silicon spatula or wooden spoon
- Silpat or greased baking sheet
- ****Recipe makes enough for one batch.
- ****Have items and ingredients measured, lined up and ready to go.
- Line Silat or parchment paper on a baking sheet.
- Spread out your cashew pieces in a rectangle on the silat or parchment paper
- In deep heavy bottom pot, add butter, sugar, water,and corn syrup.
- Fasten candy thermometer to side of pot so that bulb is not touching bottom of the pan. This will cause inaccurate reading.
- On medium heat, melt mixture stirring until all ingredients are melted and smooth.
- When mixture reaches 212 degrees it will begin to boil. Do not stir after this happens.
- Continue to let mixture boil.
- As the liquid evaporates the mixture will begin to thicken and get very bubbly.
- At 285 through 300 degrees will be the crack stage.
- I remove mine at 295 degrees
- ***If you don't have a thermometer, keep a glass of ice water next to you and drop in a small spoonful of the mixture. Give it a second to cool down. If it is chewy and soft, it needs to cook more. When the mixture has a crunchy texture, it has reached the crack stage.
- Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
- Pour hot mixture over cashews and smooth out evenly.
- Add dark chocolate chips &semi sweet chocolate chocolate chips to top of toffee and let melt for a few minutes.
- Smooth with a spatula
- Place in refrigerator to cool.
- When completely cooled break apart and store in airtight container.
- Makes a great holiday gift for coworkers, friends, and family.
Arrange cashews on your parchment paper and set aside until your buttery carmel goodness is ready.
Make sure you have your chocolate chips and vanilla lined up and ready to go. You’ll need 1 teaspoon of vanilla. 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chip plus 1 cup of semi sweet chocolate chips. I used the mini because that’s what I had on hand. Plus, adorable! Don’tcha just love The Pioneer Woman patterened dishes? I can’t get enough!
In a large heavy bottomed pot, on medium heat add 1 1/2 cups salted butter, 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, 3 Tablespoons light corn syrup, and 3 Tablespoons water. Situate your candy thermometer so the bulb is not touching the bottom of the pot. It won’t read accurately.
Stir the sugar and butter mixture continuously until you reach the boiling point, around 212 degrees F. Then stop stirring and let the heat work it’s magic.
Your pot may or may not bubble over around the 222 degree F mark, so don’t take your eyes off of it for a second. If you think it’s going to bubble over, don’t get your tinsel in a tangle, just remove the pan from the heat until the bubbles subside, or you’re going to have one hellva mess to deal with, and you might have to call in the elves for back up! So watch it, like I suggested.
As your carmel mixture continues to cook, the bubbles will go down and it will continue to thicken and turn amber in color. Oh the smell people! Heaven in a pot.
The crack stage for toffee is anywhere around 285-300 degrees F. I pull mine off at 295 degree F exactly. Then I stir in 1 teaspoon of vanilla.
Pour the mixture over the cashews, and try not to scrape the bottom of the pan, just in case there might be any burnt pieces on the bottom. You can scrape the bottom to eat later. No one has to know.
Next, pour the dark chocolate chips and semi sweet chocolate chips over the hot toffee mixture and wait a few minutes.
After a few minutes spread the chocolate evenly with a spatula and put your cookie sheet in the refrigerator for about an hour.
Once the chocolate has cooled and set, break into pieces. Now I dare you not to eat the whole tray.