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December 22, 2011


 

Part of my annual Christmas crafting and cooking involves making Almond Toffee. Every year I gift my father in law a bag of this fantastic treat and every year I seem to get better at making it. Today, during the kiddo’s nap time was my designated toffee time. I jumped right in with quality ingredients.

Everything was going smoothly with the butter and sugar simmering gently away over a low heat, I was making sure the edges of the pot were clean of any sugar and stirring away. I was feeling confident in my candy making skills especially since the little guy had broken my candy thermometer and I was going to have to eye ball my toffee. After a half hour of cooking, I noticed a bit of graininess, a bit of greasiness and then – wham! It was a greasy, grainy mess.

I would like to say I just threw this disaster away and moved on. I would like to say that I wasn’t upset, wasn’t deflated and wasn’t heartbroken that my toffee was a complete failure. The problem is that I only have certain moments in which to make candy – generally when the little guy is sleeping – and I will honestly say that wasting 5 sticks of Challenge butter seemed like a total catastrophe to me. I hate wasting food and our finances have been so tight that the idea of throwing away that much butter made my stomach churn.

As I wracked my brain I remembered something about changing pots and adding water. So I did just that, adding two tablespoons of water and stirring for ten minutes over a low flame as it attempted to come back. Then I had an epiphany – honey. Invert sugars tend to help with crystalization, and honey was the only invert sugar I had in the house. We are morally opposed to corn syrup and therefore it does not come in our house. I added about two tablespoons of honey and stirred like my life (or Christmas) depended on it. It started to work so I added some more. About a 1/4 cup later, the toffee came together and slowly I stirred it until it carmalized perfectly.

Since I didn’t have a candy thermometer I dropped a bit into a cup of ice cold water. Upon fishing it out I found it to be crunchy and perfect. I added my almonds,, vanilla and salt, stirred it thoroughly and poured it into two sheet pans. I spread chocolate over the toffee and topped it with coarsely ground almonds… Fantastic!!

I am so proud of having brought it back together and having the toffee turn out beautifully. Merry Christmas!

 

Almond Toffee

5 sticks unsalted butter plus 2 tbsp

3 cups sugar

2 tbsp water

1 1/2 cups chopped almonds

1 tbsp vanilla

1 tsp salt

3 cups chocolate chips

 

Prepare two baking sheets with a Silpat or butter.

Bring butter and sugar to a rolling boil. Using a pastry brush, wash down the sides of the pan making sure to not have any sugar left on the sides. Place a lid on the pot and let cook for 5 minutes over medium heat. Uncover and start stirring.  Stirring constantly, cook until mixture is 300-310 degrees. Turn off heat and add almonds, vanilla and salt. Stir until combined and pour onto prepared sheet pans. Spread with spatula and allow to set up for ten minutes. Cover with chocolate chips and allow to melt. Spread chocolate over toffee and then top with ground almonds.

yum!

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A bit of cheer…

December 12, 2011


The boxes are out, the tissue unwrapped and it is decorating time! A few of my favorite items collected from years past:

Wishing you all a happy time decorating and preparing for your holidays!

 

Merrily we craft along…

December 11, 2011


The seasonal crafting and decorating has hit this little house in a fierce way. We have been preparing and baking, cutting, sewing, gluing, knitting and readying ourselves to celebrate this special time of year. For our little family the rhythm of Christmas involves much crafting and decorating – and for the first time this it includes the little guy.

My desire for a homemade Christmas is slowly coming to fruition with the making of some of my favorites and a few new finds that will become favorites. Tissue covered glass lanterns  might need to become an every season item on my tables and deck, new stockings, paper chains, and cottonball snowflakes on my windows were fortunately all made with things around our home. In an attempt to spend as little as possible and use what we had we have made the house filled with more festive good cheer than any year past.

I am quite proud of what we have made so far and having so much fun making the items with my little guy has inspired me to make more!

 

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