Saturday, July 7, 2012

Sweets--Family and Cookbooks, and English Toffee

It seems appropriate to combine a post on family and a cookbook I reviewed today entitled. The Spice Merchant's Daughter, by Christina Arokiasamy, which details the author's childhood in Malaysia, is a fabulous book that details the author's experience with food and spices in her childhood. The descriptions are vibrant and inviting and the recipes quite approachable. I love checking out cookbooks from the library. It is a great way to "shop" for new cookbooks and get my new book fix without spending a penny.

I just spent a few days with my grandmother and enjoyed covering her fabulous English Toffee with my daughter. There is something transcendent about family recipes and cooking traditions. My grandmother learned to love candymaking from her father and she has passed her knowledge along to me over the years. Here is my recipe for English Toffee that is based on hers.

English Toffee
2 cups butter
2 Tbsp light corn syrup OR Lyle’s golden syrup
1/3 cup water
2 ½ cups sugar
½ tsp salt (1 tsp if using unsalted butter)
1 tsp vanilla

Lightly oil a marble slab with vegetable oil and wipe off any excess.  Place butter, corn syrup, water, sugar, and salt in a large pot and bring to a boil over moderate heat.  Cook until the syrup reaches 294°F (290°F for Spokane) and wash down the sides two or three times during the cooking process. Do not wash down the sides of the pan once it reaches the specified temperature.  The syrup is ready when it turns the color of a paper bag and the popping bubbles emit a bit of smoke.  Pour the syrup onto the prepared marble slab.  Run a large knife or spatula under the candy to make sure that it does not stick to the slab.  When the candy is set but still pliable score it into 1 ½-inch pieces with a sharp knife.  Cool completely.  Break into individual pieces along scoring lines and cover on all sides with melted chocolate.  Place chocolate covered pieces on waxed paper to set.  English toffee can be kept for at least a month in an airtight container. 

Variations:        Stir 2 cups toasted almonds, coarsely chopped, into the finished syrup just prior to pouring it onto the slab and dip milk chocolate covered pieces into chopped toasted almonds.
Stir 2 cups toasted pecans, coarsely chopped, into the syrup just prior to pouring it onto the slab and dip semisweet chocolate covered pieces into chopped toasted pecans.
Stir 2 cups toasted macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped, into the syrup just prior to pouring it onto the slab and dip candy into white chocolate.

© Katherine C. Otterstrom, July 2012

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