Saturday, March 13, 2010


My English Toffee experiment, while not perfect, was definitely more of a success than my failed hard candy attempt.  I used a recipe from The Lady & Sons "Just Desserts" cookbook, by Paula Deen.  The book was a gift from a friend many years ago, and while I don't cook out of it often, it's nice to have a book that's just desserts.  

The recipe:


14 tablespoon (1 stick plus 6 tablespoons) butter
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoon cold water 
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
dash of salt
1   (6-ounce bag) semisweet chocolate chips or thin chocolate bars


Generously butter a cookie sheet.
Put butter, sugar, and water in a heavy pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Bring to a bubbling boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, about 10 minutes. Remove spoon from pan, and cook to a very brittle stage (300 degrees to 310 degrees F on a candy thermometer). Or, make a cold water test: candy will separate into hard, brittle threads when dropped in cold water. Remove from heat and add nuts to mixture. Add vanilla and salt. Pour onto prepared cookie sheet and spread to 1/4-inch thickness. Cool slightly, top with chocolate chips or chocolate bars, and spread as it melts. Cool completely and break into pieces. Store in an airtight container.

Recipe courtesy Paula Deen
Servings: about 40 pieces
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 25 min
Difficulty: Easy
Show: Paula's Home Cooking/Just Desserts cookbook

 Lined, greased cookie sheet.  I wasn't taking any chances.

Butter and sugar.  What's so bad about that?

 And we're bubbling.....

And the chips are sinking as they melt.  Should've waited longer.  

*** I pulled this recipe from the website.  However, on closer examination, I found a discrepancy.  In the book, it says to add the nuts to the mixture just before you remove the spoon.  On this one, it ways to add the nuts just before you pour it out.  I would follow this one, as I think the nuts cooked a little too much.   Also, I used walnuts, because it's what I had.

I forgot to take a photo of the finished concoction.   You'll just have to make it yourself to find out!  I think the next time I make toffee, I'll use a recipe that my Grandma shared with me.  It's mostly the same, but with a few changes I think would make a world of difference. 

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Spring may not be officially here yet, and we may get another big snowstorm before March is over, but I think she's definitely creeping around the neighborhood.

My crocuses are up!

I will be glad when we live in a house that's ours, but there are a few things I love about this house:
1. Crocuses in spring
2. Family room in the back of the house
3. Giant kitchen (both a blessing and a curse)
4. Raspberry patch in the summer.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Homemade Candy

Lately, after eating supper, I've been craving something sweet.  Not whole huge desserts, but just a few bites of something sweet, like candy.  Rather than purchase candy made with all sorts of additives and junk, I thought I'd try and make candy at home. 

First, I found a recipe that looked idiot-proof and tasty.  It was also one I had all the ingredients on hand for.  Bonus!

Vinegar Candy
(From Dining on a Dime Cookbook, by Tawra Kellam and Jill Cooper)
2 Cups sugar
1/2 Cup cider vinegar
2 Tsp. Butter

Combine ingredients in a saucepan and cook to 275 degrees.  Pour into well buttered jelly roll pan, let cool, and break. Makes 24 pieces.

Sounds easy enough, right?


Everything started out fine:
I gathered my ingredients (that thing on the left is my butter keeper.  If you don't have one, get one, it's amazing!)

And I followed the cooking instructions
And ended up with a pan full of candy-flavored cement.

I think my pan was too large, and my well-buttered job was not enough cause that stupid stuff wouldn't come out.  I chiseled at it with a spatula, I put down waxed paper and hit it with a hammer.  I ended up with shards of candy, not 24 pieces, but like candy dust with a few large bits thrown in.  Also, when you suck on it, it gets gooey and sticks in your fillings/teeth.  


Next up, English Toffee from Paula Dean's Dessert Cookbook.  With a smaller pan.