For the first time in many, many years, I am working a lot during the holidays. Well, let me rephrase that. I am working a lot for me. I am used to having all the time in the world to shop and bake and read and work out (not that I ever did much of that) and have lunch with friends, and suddenly I’m…what’s that word called when there’s not much time to do whatever you please?…busy! Yes, I’m busy. Almost every second needs to be used efficiently these days. I kind of like it, but I kind of hate it, too.
On the plus side, I’ve managed not to eat my weight in cookies this season. On the minus side, my creative time in the kitchen has really suffered. I miss cooking and I miss blogging. Eventually, I will figure out a way to make it all work out, but for now it’s a bit overwhelming. Last week, for example, I purchased Williams-Sonoma’s ridiculously overpriced Handcrafted Toffee as part of a hostess gift. Back in the day, I would sooner sell a kidney than pay thirty bucks for a small amount of toffee. But these days, with minimal spare time in the kitchen, I had to pony up the cash. I did, however, make a promise to myself to attempt to make my own toffee the next time I had a chance.
Can you believe I don’t own a candy thermometer? I had to borrow one for this recipe. In reading the comments of the many different recipes I browsed, I suggest you do the same if you don’t already own one. Unless you’re an experienced candymaker who can eyeball the color of 300 degrees, invest in obtaining a thermometer. Other than that, I’d venture to say you already have most of the ingredients in your kitchen right now. This is easy and delicious, and it would make a great holiday gift.
Easy Butter Toffee
1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter
2 teaspoons water
1 cup white sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted (optional)
In a deep and heavy saucepan, slowly melt butter, water, salt and sugar over LOW HEAT. Once completely melted, raise heat to medium, and stir occasionally. When the water boils off and thickens, insert your candy thermometer in mixture. Watch carefully, and continue to stir. As soon as thermometer passes 300 degrees but before 320 degrees, remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or buttered, spread mixture evenly into a rectangular shape. Sprinkle chocolate chips over mixture and after about 30 seconds, gently spread with back of spoon or a spatula. Top with slivered almonds, if desired. After about ten minutes, move to refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Once completely cooled and hardened, break into pieces and seal in an airtight container. Keep refrigerated until serving.
This is how it looked right around 300 degrees. Don’t be alarmed.
This is what it looked like spread onto parchment paper. Notice the rich color.
This is what it looked like before going into the refrigerator.
The final product, ready to be boxed and shared.