Saturday, November 17, 2012

Grandma's Toffee

The one, the only, the Grandma's Butter Toffee recipe!

My mom has been making this toffee during the holiday season for years. She would always bring a jar to anyone's house when we visited for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners. It just doesn't feel like the holidays without butter toffee! When I started getting "Guest Blog" recipes from my family I knew I had to get her toffee recipe in here, but she wouldn't make it til the holiday season, so I had to wait.
But now the wait is over!
Grandma's Toffee recipe (dictated to me while she cooks):

2 sticks "I can't Believe It's Not Butter" or butter
(note, I did not have good luck using regular butter, the toffee came out too grainy and not smooth, but my sister uses it in her toffee all the time with success)
1 & 1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon each of light corn syrup and water
2/3 cup coarsely chopped toasted almonds
(not salted if using pre-roasted packaged almonds)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup (or more) semi-sweet chocolate chips or my preference:
Ghiradelli 60% cacao chips

Gather and assemble all ingredients before starting to cook:
toffee must be stirred constantly while cooking.

Chop almonds and lightly toast if not already roasted
(watch them, they can turn from toasted to charcoal very quickly!) Set aside.

Bubba helped chop some of the almonds.
(He loved the chopper! Since she has been making mulitiple batches,
every time Bubba hears the chopper, he has to help,
and yells "Bang, Bang, Bang!" while chopping)

Here's the size you are looking for

Unwrap one stick of margarine and use it to lightly grease a foil covered cookie sheet.

Put the greasing stick in a sauce pan with the other stick of margarine
and start melting over low heat
add water and corn syrup.

Add sugar gradually to the margarine.

Stir as the margarine melts.

Keep stirring as margarine melts and sugar dissolves.

Keep the mixture on low/medium-low heat stirring constantly.
The mixture will go through several changes in consistency as it cooks


gradually thickening until it looks like vanilla pudding.

Briefly leave the pan to prepare a small ice water bath to use for testing the temperature.


Continue cooking and stirring the mixture until it is about the color of peanut butter.

(Peanut butter jar shown for color,
Do Not add peanut butter to the toffee)

Test the temperature by drizzling a little mixture into the ice water. It will cool very quickly and will harden. Taste it to see if it has a nice crunch.

When at the crunchy (hard crack) stage remove from heat onto a heat-proof surface and stir in 1/3 cup chopped almonds and the vanilla.
Stir quickly, the consistency will change again.

Pour mixture onto the foil covered pan.

Sprinkle the top with chocolate chips, add enough so that when melted they will cover the surface when spread.

I use an off-set knife to spread them.

Sprinkle remaining 1/3 cup (or more as needed) of toasted almonds over chocolate

Allow to cool completely, to cold. It goes faster if refrigerated (or put outside in the winter)

When cold break into small pieces 


Store at room temperature in a sealed container (if it lasts long enough!)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Fried Candy Bars, Batter fried Chocolate Cheese, and Funnel Cake!

While editing my post for fried cheese curds inspiration struck! I remembered my absolute favorite fair  food: deep fried candy bars. I have been meaning to try them at home for quite some time now, and we just happen to have some left over Halloween candy. But that wasn't the only thing I thought to fry. On my last trip up to WI I bought some chocolate cheese from The Cheese Chalet. (They ship nation wide so you too can get this addictive chocolaty creation, which tastes exactly like fudge.)

As I usually do for most kitchen experiments, I enlisted Tim's help.
Our first task was to find a suitable funnel cake batter to dip our goodies in before frying. After a google search I quickly found one belonging to Alton Brown, my favorite chef from Food Network. So it was a no brainier that this was the funnel cake recipe to try.

1 cup water
3/4 stick butter (6 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
1 cup eggs, about 4 large eggs and 2 whites
Vegetable oil, for frying
Powdered sugar, for topping

First freeze the candy bars and the cheese (cut in cubes) for at least 2 hours.

Boil water, butter, sugar, and salt together in a saucepan. 

 Add flour and work it in until it is all incorporated and dough forms a ball. 

Transfer mixture to the bowl of a standing mixer and let cool for 3 to 4 minutes. 

With mixer lowest speed, add eggs, 1 at a time, making sure the first egg is completely incorporated before continuing. 

Now this weird beater attachment didn't really seem to be doing the trick, 
so I switched to a whisk attachment.

There. A nice smooth thick batter.

We decided to experiment with a blob of batter to see how long it would take to cook. 
Approximately 3-4 minutes. 
Timing is important because you want to cook the batter,
but not melt they candy bar everywhere.

Our first candy bar we tried to get an even coat of batter, 
so that no chocolate was exposed to the hot oil.

It seemed like it may have been a bit thin in some spots and a little chocolate escaped.

The next ones we double dipped and got a much thicker layer of batter and all the chocolate stayed in this time

Next the chocolate cheese...

It came out great on the first try.

 Now, what to do with all that left over batter? 
Alton Brown's recipe was for actual funnel cake,
and it told you to put the batter in a piping bag. 
Now when I made Bubba's birthday cake,
I found that a ziplock bag with a corner cut off works just as well.
So we tried it again for the batter.
First fill the bag.

Squeeze it all to the botom corner and then cut the corner off.

Unlike with icing, the batter comes out of the bag immediately after you cut it, 
so hold the bag over the hot oil.

Squeeze out the batter in a circular motion.

As you add more it will stick together and look more "basket-y" like funnel cake does.

 Take out of the fryer once golden brown.

And sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Here are the deep fried candy bars:

And the fried chocolate cheese:

Bubba was a little out of sorts when he woke up from nap today.

But some funnel cake for snack cheered him right up!