Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Rose's Toffee

"What's in a name? 
That which we call a rose 
By any other name 
would smell as sweet."

And this candy is just as sweet regardless of what you call it:  English Toffee, Almond Roca or Anne's Pound Candy.  My sister in law used to make something similar at all our Holiday get-togethers.   I've been craving it and decided to try it on my own this week.  It was not as hard as I thought it would be.  If I could make these yummy treats, I know that you could too.

The ingredients are pretty basic.
14 T butter
1 cup sugar
2 T cold water
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or almonds)
1 t vanilla
Dash of salt
4 Hershey's Bars
A candy thermometer is helpful but not necessary.

First, I buttered my Pampered Chef cookie sheet and scattered the chopped walnuts evenly around.

In a heavy pot, I added the butter to melt on medium high heat.  
I love the smell of melting butter.

As it melted, but before it turned brown, I added 1 cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons of cold water.  I'm not exactly sure why you need to add water, but it made a nice sizzling sound and looked impressive.

It was a lovely bubbly creation here that but had to be stirred constantly with a wooden spoon.  I would think that a nice red plastic spoon would melt.  Not that it has ever happened to me... but it probably would. 

Just keep stirring. Just keep stirring. Just keep stirring, 
stirring, stirring

The lovely creamy bubble turned quickly (10min +/-) into a dark brown concoction but it was still kinda grainy.

I began to worry- I might be burning it. 

At this point, I realized that the candy thermometer that I hardly ever use was cracked.  I decided not to use it incase it added tiny pieces of glass to the candy.

 I started to panic a bit... 
but remembered that there is a cold water test.  

I opened my handy dandy iphone and googled it.

From Taste of Home's website, I found that the "Hard-Crack Stage is (300°-310°). Drop a small amount of the hot candy mixture into the cold water. When cooled and removed from the water, the candy will separate into hard brittle threads."

                   >>>>Have I told you that I love my iphone?  Well, I really do!<<<<
See how the picture below shows the syrup to be less grainy and smoother?  It was almost ready.

I didn't have time to take pictures of me testing the candy, because of the panic mentioned above... but the very first try at testing showed that my candy was in fact brittle little threads.  I began to pour it onto the walnuts.
It looked yummy and beautiful.
It didn't take up the whole tray like I thought it would. Next time, I could double the recipe  to use the entire tray or just be happy with what I have....

The secret to being content... is to be happy with what I have.

Next, I opened 4 packages of Hershey's Milk Chocolate and crumbled up into pieces. 

I was surprised at how fast it melted.

I was able to smooth it with a soft spatula.

I thought that I could sprinkle some of the left over chopped walnuts  on top too. So, I did.  Once it was close to room temperature, I put it in the fridge to finish hardening.  Then it was easy to break up into small pieces.  

I really liked the finished process.  I think that it would be great to use almonds or even chopped peppermint candy canes.

Recipe for Rose's Toffee
14 T butter
1 cup sugar
2 T cold water
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or almonds)
1 t vanilla
Dash of salt
4 Hershey's Bars

Butter a cookie sheet. Sprinkle chopped walnuts evenly on cookie sheet.  Add butter to a heavy pot and melt on medium high heat.  Once melted but not brown, add sugar and water and bring to a bubbling boil while stirring constantly. Boil and stir until contents reach 300-310 degrees on a candy thermometer or use the cold water test for a hard crack stage.  Remove from heat add vanilla and salt.  Pour onto nuts in the cookie sheet spreading as necessary.  Top with Hershey's chocolate bars and spread as it melts.  Cool completely and then break into pieces.  Store in airtight container.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Grammy's Russian Spiced Tea

I loved, loved, loved Christmas at my Grammy's house.  Grandpa and Grammy lived on several acres in SW Missouri. It was a time filled with family, love and wonderful food.

We would drive our VW from the mountains, across the prairie to the Ozarks. We would often arrive after dark, walking like zombies into the chilly"utility room.

It was a great place to land.  Next to her super sized freezer, Grammy had all her lovely canned tomatoes and green beans lining the wall in all their colorful glory.  There was also a little table that would have round tins of her Christmas candy: divinity, fudge and sometimes ribbon candy.  I'm ashamed to say that sometimes I would check out the tins before even saying hello.

Grammy was a great cook!  I don't think that I can make good fudge nor divinity at this altitude, but I can make another of her Christmas traditions:  Russian Spiced Tea.  Below is the original recipe from Tang.

I was not able to find unsweetened instant tea at the grocery store, so I varied my recipe.

2 cups Tang
2 cups sweetened instant lemon tea.
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cloves.
Mix together in a big bowl.  Use 4 teaspoons for every cup of hot water.  Store in air tight container.

It is just like stepping back into that sweet time of Christmas in the Ozarks.