I love to make homemade sweets for a special treat at Christmas time. There are way too many nasties and refined sweeteners in bought lollies, so it’s nice to have some homemade ones to keep the kids happy. Okay, and the adults. 🙂 This toffee recipe has been a favourite at our house for a couple of years now, ever since I found it on a great website called Deliciously Organic!
Unfortunately, you can’t make it in the Thermomix, as you can’t cook at temperatures higher than 114 degrees celcius, and to get toffee to the hard crack stage you need to get up to 150 degrees celcius. So, it’s back to stirring over a hot stove for this one – but it’s worth it! I do make the chocolate (or melt the chocolate) and chop the nuts in the Thermomix though.
If you don’t have a candy thermometer, don’t worry – neither do I. I’ve always cooked candies the old-fashioned way, ever since I was a little kid. Mum taught me the method of holding the wooden spoon up to see how the candy drips, and dropping bits in a cup of cool water to see how it sets. Here’s an explanation of the cold water testing method, and how to tell what temperature your toffee has reached. For this recipe (or any toffee or lollipop recipe where you want ‘crunch’), your syrup needs to reach the hard crack stage (300 degrees F / 150 degrees C). I’ll explain a bit more about the ‘how to’ below.
You can do all sorts of variations with this recipe – the photo above has dark chocolate and sprinkles on some, and toasted pecans and dark chocolate on the other. You can use whatever nuts you like, or leave the nuts out and top with sprinkles instead. I use Hopper sprinkles – they are made from fruit & vege extracts, no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. They are also gluten free, dairy free, egg free and nut free. For the chocolate, I prefer to make my own (with this recipe), but since I didn’t have any cacao butter left I used Lindt 70% cocoa chocolate.
Note: You can find fine sea salt for this recipe in my online store here!
Testing to see if toffee is at hard crack stage:
Have a cup of cool water handy. As mixture simmers over low heat, try to only stir it a little now and then. Don’t constantly stir it or you’ll end up with a grainy, fudge-like texture. You want to keep the sugar from crystallizing on the sides of the pan – if it starts to do that, brush down the sides with a pastry brush (preferably silicon) dipped in water.
You’ll notice the mixture starting to get darker and thicker after a few minutes. Give it a gentle stir, then hold the spoon up and let most of the mixture drip off. The last couple of drips will become a string of toffee – if the string thins out to a fly-away hair, it’s about ready. (See picture below)
Let the string of toffee drip into the cup of cool water. If it hardens quickly into a brittle thread that snaps when you bend it (or crunches when you bite it) the toffee is ready – take it off the heat immediately! There’s a fine line between ready and burnt. (Be careful it’s not too hot before you pop it into your mouth to taste it!!)
I find this keeps best in the freezer in our hot, humid climate – I leave it in one big piece and crack some off as we want it, or break into smaller pieces and place in ziploc bags.
Make a couple of batches and share it with your friends – it’s perfect for Christmas presents! You can make a little paper box, line it with baking paper, add the toffee pieces and pop on the lid. Sweet!
Here’s a link to making your own paper gift boxes – I use a large, square sheet of scrapbooking paper for the lid of the box, and another for the bottom of the box. Cut 1 centimetre off two adjacent sides of the second sheet for the bottom of the box, so the lid will fit over. Use the offcuts to make a curly decoration for the lid, stuck on with double sided tape.