Looking for a last minute gift for friends, neighbors or relatives? You still have time to make this, and it’s really great to give away — not just because it’s delicious and a nice thing to do at holiday time, but also because it’s so darn addictive, you’ll have to get it out of the house before you eat it all. It makes a lot, so you’ll have plenty for passing to sweets lovers.
The hardest part is making the toffee, because it can easily burn if you’re not keeping an eye on it. Conversely, if you don’t cook it enough, it will be too soft and won’t have that crunch you associate with toffee. If you have a candy thermometer, you’re one step ahead of the game. I found mine broken in a drawer, so I had to rely on another way to gauge whether it was ready — dropping a bit from a wooden spoon into a glass of ice water. If it’s still pliable after you’ve dropped it in the water, it’s not done. If it snaps crisply, it’s done, so you can pour the syrup over the nuts and chocolate.
Spread half of the nuts (toasted to bring out the best flavor) over a sheet of parchment paper, then spread half of the chocolate that you’ve broken up either by hand or in a food processor. Pour the syrup over everything.
After you’ve poured the syrup over the nuts and chocolate, then spread the remaining chocolate over the syrup. Wait a few minutes for the chocolate to soften, then smooth it over the candy with a spatula. Sprinkle the remaining nuts on top and wait for it to cool.
Take a knife, and cut into pieces. If you’re like me, you’ll have a lot of loose bits that won’t look too great as gifts, so save those for yourself to eat out of hand, or for using as an ice cream topping.
Place into attractive boxes, tins or jars, and spread some good cheer to others before you eat it all.
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- 16 tablespoons (227g) unsalted butter, cold
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1½ cups (298g) sugar
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional; for enhanced flavor
- 3 tablespoons (43g) water
- 1 tablespoon (21g) light corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon baking soda, optional (see "tips," below)
- 2 cups (227g) diced pecans or slivered almonds, toasted
- 2⅔ cups (454g) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped; or chocolate chips
- In a large, deep (3 quart) saucepan, melt the butter.
- Stir in the salt, sugar, espresso powder, water, and corn syrup, and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Boil gently over medium heat, without stirring, until the mixture reaches hard-crack stage (300°F on an instant-read or candy thermometer; you'll be taking it off the heat a few degrees sooner).
- The syrup will bubble without seeming to change much for awhile, but be patient; all of a sudden it will darken, and at that point you need to take its temperature and see if it's ready.
- (If you don't have a thermometer, test a dollop in ice water; it should immediately harden to a brittleness sufficient that you'll be able to snap it in two, without any bending or softness).
- This whole process should take about 10 to 12 minutes.
- Pay attention; too long on the heat, and the syrup will burn.
- While the sugar is boiling, spread half of the nuts in an even, closely packed layer on a parchment-lined 9" x 13" pan.
- Top the nuts with half the chocolate.
- When the syrup has reached 295°F, remove from the heat and stir in the baking soda; it will foam up, so use caution.
- Pour the syrup quickly and evenly over the nuts and chocolate.
- Top with the remaining chocolate and let sit for 2 to 3 minutes, until it softens; spread the chocolate with an offset spatula in an even layer and immediately sprinkle the remaining nuts on top.
- While the candy is still slightly warm, pull it out of the pan and use a thin spatula to loosen it from the parchment.
- When completely cool, break into uneven chunks.