Archives for posts with tag: #Candy

This was a productive cooking and baking weekend! I’m putting together holiday gift baskets filled with treats and sweets for family and friends since we won’t be having our usual Christmas Eve Open House this year. Some items that I made for the baskets are:

  • Classic Fudge with Walnuts
  • Pretzel Peanut Clusters
  • Chocolate Covered Oreo Truffles
  • Chocolate Toffee Candy
  • Cranberry Cream Cheese Bread
  • Double Chocolate Coconut Bars a.k.a. Jill’s Coconut Crack
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • My Dad’s Favorite Oatmeal Cookies
  • Homemade Herb Toasted Croutons (I’ll include a bag of croutons in the basket with homemade dressing, fresh garden greens, baguette and wine — it can’t be all sweets!)

Later this week, I’m making Gingerbread Cookies, Chocolate Ganache Tarts and Rum Cake that will also be gifts. I will eventually add recipes to my blog for each but today wanted to highlight my middle daughter’s favorite Chocolate Toffee Candy that I make every Christmas because I know she loves it. It requires a few steps and patience but it is worth the effort!

Chocolate Toffee Candy

Ingredients:

6 ounces good semisweet chocolate, chopped

6 ounces good bittersweet chocolate, chopped

8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup water

1 tsp light corn syrup

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 cup finely chopped toasted pecans

Candy thermometer

Directions:

  1. Combine the two chocolates and set aside. Set a small bowl of water and a pastry brush next to the stove.
  2. In a heavy saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, cook the butter, sugar, water, corn syrup and salt over medium heat. Stir frequently with a wooden spoon until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Continue stirring gently and only occasionally as the mixture gets to 300 degrees and begins to darken. Brush the sides of the pan down with a little water every once in awhile to keep the sugar from crystallizing.
  3. Once the mixture reaches 300 degrees (about 18 to 20 minutes) and is the color of peanut butter, remove from the heat. Carefully add the vanilla and stir. With a heat proof rubber spatula scrape the mixture into a 9 x 11 inch ungreased cookie sheet set on a rack. Be very careful as the mixture is very hot. Tilt the pan until the toffee covers the bottom evenly. Let cool 2 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped chocolate and let melt for a few minutes (I cover it with another cookie sheet to help it melt). Once melted organically from the heat of the toffee, smooth the chocolate evenly with the spatula. Sprinkle with the toasted, chopped pecans.
  4. Let cool completely for 3 to 4 hours uncovered on your kitchen counter. Break or chop into pieces using a metal spatula or knife.
Toffee before it was broken in pieces.

Enjoy! XOXO Jill

Happy December! It’s the time of year for holiday baking. Did you know in the month of December there are 14 different holidays celebrated around the world? Our family celebrates Christmas but we have many friends and family that are Jewish and celebrate Hanukkah. This year, I decided to bake my desserts and candy early and deliver them since our gatherings and celebrations will be smaller.

One of my favorites is Pralines that I learned to make when I lived in Louisiana. These are a fun, sweet, unique, gourmet gift since they aren’t usually found in other areas of the country.

If you are from Louisiana the proper way to say it is ‘prah-leen.” These sweet candy treats are made with pecans or “pee-kans” that are from the native tree nuts in the humid region. My first taste of these Southern pecan, sugar-coated treats was during one of my many visits to the French Quarter in New Orleans and since then I’ve tried to master the candy.

There is only a few ingredients but the process moves quickly meaning you’ll need to work fast and have patience. The best strategy is to have all your ingredients measured and ready to go as you begin each step below.

Southern Pecans

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups sugar, divided

1 cup half and half

1 TBSP unsalted butter

Kosher salt

2 cups pecan halves

1/4 tsp vanilla

Directions:

  1. Line two large baking sheets with wax paper.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, add 2 cups of sugar, half and half, butter and a pinch of salt. Bring this to a boil stirring occasionally to combine.
  3. In another medium pot, add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and 1 TBSP water. Stir well to incorporate. Bring to a boil over high heat. Then, cook without stirring until the sugar mixture begins to turn a deep, golden caramel color about 3 minutes.
  4. Working quickly turn off the stove and pour the half and half mixture, pecans and vanilla into the caramel pot. Using a wooden spoon, stir vigorously to combine over medium heat. Be careful during this step as the mixture is very hot.
  5. Attach a candy thermometer to the pot and continue cooking, stirring occasionally until the mixture reaches 235 degrees F about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and remove the thermometer.
  6. Stir continuously until the mixture thickens about 7-9 minutes. Use a large spoon and scoop a round TBSP of the mixture onto the prepared baking sheets. Leave 1″ between each praline. Cool completely.

These can be stored in an air-tight container in a cool area for up to 2 to 3 weeks.

Enjoy! XOXO Jill