Sunday, November 22, 2009

Grandma Larson's Butter Toffee

The dog says: I am not allowed to eat Butter Toffee because it is covered in chocolate. But this is what Susan told me about this recipe:

These days, few recipes stand the test of a new generation's palette. We may remember the comfort of tuna casserole but never once think of making it ourselves. This recipe has been passed down Susan's maternal line. Susan has tweaked it only slightly-- mixing in a little yummier chocolate (although discovering you do need some of that Nestle wax to make it stick). Her goal has always been to recreate that melt-in-your-mouth crunchy goodness that was snuck piece-by-piece out of the wax paper-lined coffee can Grandma Larson sent back with her family after Thanksgiving.  

For Susan, butter toffee recalls the long car ride to Grandma's across the flat darkened farmlands, drawing with fingers and toes on foggy windows and watching for the glow of sugar beet stacks on the horizon. She hears the quiet murmers of her parents discussing, arguing, planning as they return reluctantly to the little town they left behind. Crossing the silver bridge, they leave behind their progress. They return to the place where B and Bud met, courted and fled.  

But for Susan and her sister, Grandma's town was a quiet world of board games played huddled in flannel nightgowns by the heat register. Heidi the cat lurked behind every corner, hissing and swiping to drive away the nasty, invading children. Grandma's house was the chilly attic bedrooms frozen in time, the wooden dollhouse and china cats, the candy dish, limitless white toast with real butter, and jigsaw puzzles and scrabble on a rickety card table.  

Now, as Susan stirs and tends her toffee, she hears the quiet tick-tocking of Grandma's clock. She imagines her grandma in her quiet house toasting the almonds and tending the slow-bubbling toffee. She thinks about her scraping together enough from her social security to buy almonds and real butter so her family could have a tin of special toffee every year. While Susan waits for her toffee to turn tawny, she pictures her grandmother sitting in her arm chair, crocheting, working crosswords and listening for the car engine in the night, announcing the arrival of family.  

Grandma Larson's Butter Toffee
(image added 12/10/10)
Grandma Larson’s Butter Toffee 
This is a simple recipe but may take practice to get the kind of texture you like. Some people like a hard, toasty snap. Others prefer melt-in-your-mouth. Candy thermometers are very personal so adjust the temperature as you like.  

1 1/2 c. slivered almonds, toasted  
2 c. butter 
2 T. light (not dark) corn syrup  
2 c. white sugar 
1/4 c. water 
12 oz.chocolate chips (Grandma used Nestle toll house, Susan mixes in 1/2 semi sweet Ghiradelli)  

Toast the almonds to golden brown and cool. Have them close at hand to add when candy is ready. Lay sheets of foil over two cookie sheets. Keep nearby for pouring toffee.  

In a large, heavy pan (I use a 4 1/2 qt. dutch oven), melt butter over low heat. Add sugar. Stir until dissolved. Add water, and corn syrup. Heat gradually over medium/medium low heat. Watch it carefully and stir once in awhile. Cook to 275-285 (with a candy thermometer) Cooking temp determines toffee texture—lower temp for melt in your mouth—higher for crunchier, toasty taste (I go lower). It should be light golden brown. It takes awhile then is suddenly DONE.  

Quickly, remove from heat. Stir in almonds. Pour onto to two cookie sheets and spread QUICKLY to desired thickness (about 1/4”). It is helpful to have another cook handy to help spread as you pour. Put in cool place until completely cool (I use the porch in the winter). Don't worry if a little of the butter can scrape it off when it is cold.

When toffee is cool: Melt chocolate chips in microwave. Spread half chocolate over toffee. Cool until hardened then lift carefully, remove and flip greasy foil and then turn candy slab over. Spread second 1/2 of chocolate over other side. Chill. Crack into bite size pieces.  

Store in fridge in tin marked “wheat germ” to deter thieves. 

If you give Grandma Larson's Butter Toffee as gifts,
your child may get straight A's
and your neighbors may shovel your walk.
(image added 12/10/10)

1 comment:

  1. Oh Grandma...I gave up on making Grandma's toffee this year because just before Christmas the weather went from dry as a bone and 10 below to 30 and 90% humidity, and even though Grandma was from Oregon, she woulda told me, "That ain't toffee weather no matter how much you want it!"