You guys, if you’ll indulge me, I’m going to complain for a moment about something that is horrifying me: I just watched an ad for a bluetooth enabled stuffed animal. Yes, SERIOUSLY! Bluetooth puppies, bears, and bunnies. How ridiculous is this? I love technology as much as the next girl, in fact, probably more then average, but even I’ve gotta say we’re over doing when we start giving our kids bluetooth capable teddy bears. For fear of sounding really old fashioned, what happened to pain old stuffed animals, dolls, action figures, and puzzles?
This ad was actually on the Sprout channel. For those of you that don’t have kids, this channel features kid friendly shows like The Chica Show (singing chickens who own a costume shop), Justime (time traveling kid), and Caillou (whiney four year old figuring out life). Naturally, the advertising on Sprout is going to be kid centric (toys!) or about products a Mom/Dad might need.
Very clearly these ads are designed to make sure your child wants to buy anything and EVERYTHING they see. And I’ve got to say, they work really, really well. After TV watching my older son Aiden will come to me, not only with a with a laundry list of toys he wants; but with suggestions for actual laundry products I ‘need’! At this point I have been repeatedly told, by my five year old, I just really, really, need to buy OxiClean for those “tough stains on our laundry”.
You know that is some seriously effective advertising when you have a five year old begging to buy laundry detergent. Or perhaps that kids are just incredibly susceptible to advertising? Probably the later since the OxiClean commercial is really stupid…. Anyhow, my point is these ads work and my kids are now going to be begging me to buy them a bluetooth bunny. EEK!
Advertising usually doesn’t faze me. People gotta make a living, and I see selling things is a valid was to do so. So I suppose advertising is a reasonable by product of this. But, something about seeing how much it affects my kids… really bugs me. It kinda makes me want to toss our TV out the window.
Anyhow, thanks for indulging my rant. On to todays wonderful recipe that I will now totally attempt to sell to you. (Haha. I’m funny right?) But seriously, English Toffee! Yum! Toffee chocolate, nuts, maybe a little sea salt. Best Christmas goodie ever. And guess what I found out? It’s totally easy to make!
I’ve actually been a little intimidated about trying candy making of any sort; but toffee is the perfect entry point into the candy world. All you really need to pull it off (in addition to the ingredients of course, which you probably have on hand for Christmas baking anyway) is a thermometer and the time (about 15 minutes) to pay attention while you’re cooking up the toffee.
Don’t be intimidated by the words “hard crack stage” in the recipe. All that means is that there is little to no water left in the and mixture, and that when the mixture is dropped into water it forms hard threads that crack. Basically it’s what gives toffee it’s texture. But honestly you don’t even need to know that to pull off the recipe. Just listen to your thermometer and you’ll be fine!
If you happen to be interested you can check out this helpful article on candy making. Anyhow, I’m really happy that toffee is so easy, because in addition to the fact that I personally adore it, I think it makes a wonderful homemade gift for friends or family. I’d totally rather get toffee then a Christmas card. Wouldn’t you? So definitely give this one a try.
Classic English Toffee or Brown Sugar Toffee
- two sticks butter (salted or unsalted is ok, just omit pinch of salt if using salted)
- 1 cup white sugar* (see note below)
- 2 tablespoons water
- pinch of salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup pecans
- 6-8 oz of semi sweet chocolate (depending on how thick you want the chocolate top)
1. Line a 9 inch square baking pan (you can use a round pan if you wish as well) with foil. Set aside near the stove.
2. In a sauce pan or small pot melt together butter, sugar, water, and salt (if needed) over medium heat. Stir periodically until all melted together and well combined. Maintain the heat and cook until the mixture reaches the hard crack stage 300* F stirring occasionally. As the temperature rises the mixture will boil and bubble, and may separate (kind of looks like a broken sauce with the butter floating on top) this is all ok, just stir it back together and continue cooking. The mixture will also turn a dark golden brown as it cooks. The big thing to watch out for during this step is not to let the mixture burn.
3. When the correct temperature/color is reached pour the toffee mixture into the prepared pan. Cool at room temperature until set firmly about 45 minutes.
4. When the toffee is set, place pecans on an un-greased baking sheet and toast in the oven at 350* for 5-8 minutes or until the pecans smell fragrant and lightly browned. When the pecans are toasted you may want to crush about two thirds of them into small pieces. While the pecans are toasting melt the chocolate over a double boiler over low heat or in the microwave, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
5. When the chocolate is melted and the pecans are toasted/crushed, spread the chocolate evenly over the hardened toffee and sprinkle the pecans on top. Lightly press the pecans into the chocolate to help them adhere. Place the completed toffee in the fridge to set the chocolate. Set for at least and hour, but overnight is preferred.
6. When the chocolate is fully set remove from the pan lifting from the foil. Gently break the toffee into pieces. Toffee can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a month. However, I’m of the opinion it stays much nicer when refrigerated.
*Note: You can substitute lightly packed brown sugar for the white sugar for a different but very appealing effect. Other then the substitution follow the directions as is.