You can buy it at Williams-Sonoma for $30/box…or you can make it yourself for about $5 (and that’s with some really good chocolate) and spend the extra $25 on a nice pedicure. Or maybe a subscription to US Weekly. Or do a good deed. You decide.
But I’ve screwed up a lot of things in my cooking life, including toffee, and I think I can honestly tell you…it’s not that hard. I promise. In fact, the candy thermometer makes it very easy.
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds, divided
1 cup salted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup warm water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
8 ounces really good chocolate, coarsely chopped
A brief word about ‘medium’ heat here…this is possibly the number one reason people screw up toffee: they get impatient. And then they jack up the heat. You will be making this entire batch of toffee with medium heat. It will take a while. Please resist the urge to hurry it along; it will likely cause your mixture to separate and ruin the whole batch. If your candy thermometer stops moving up you can raise the heat a tiny bit to help it along, but don’t get all hot tamale on me, got it? Medium heat.
Once your butter is almost completely melted, stir in the sugar, warm water and salt. Set your candy thermometer in the pan (and double check that the sensor part is not touching bottom of pan. Deep-fry thermometers are really good for this because the bulb is not allowed to touch the bottom.) Cook mixture over medium heat, stirring just a couple of times lightly, until mixture reaches 240 degrees F. This whole process will take a while…like 15 min. or so.
This is not the time to pick your nose, answer the phone or get your kids a snack. You have about a minute ’til this stuff starts hardening, so stir in the soda quickly and then dump the whole mixture onto your wax-paper lined pan. Spread it to even thickness. (Sorry about this bad lighting…it’s hard to handle hot toffee with one hand and work your camera with the other.)
Every once in a while, even though I’ve followed my instructions perfectly, the butter will pool a little bit or slightly separate from the candy. Some people say it’s the humidity, others say it’s the butter you use (salted is less fussy they say), some say you used too much heat. DO NOT PANIC if this happens. It always works itself out…I’ve never needed to ‘soak up’ the butter or pour it off. As long as your candy thermometer reached 295, it will set.
p.s. if your candy thermometer and/or pan have hard, gunky stuff on them, throw some water back in the pan and bring it to a boil. The gunk will melt off.