This recipe is adapted from one for peanut brittle. Personally, I'm not a fan of the stuff. But it's terribly easy to turn a simple brittle into a simple toffee, and who am I to say no to that?
With the aid of that miraculous culinary invention, the microwave, it only takes 10 minutes of prep time to make this delicious treat, and it's practically fool-proof.
Let's get started...
Step 1: Materials
1 cup raw pralines
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
The nuts, even if you choose to substitute peanuts, walnuts, cashews, almonds, whatever, MUST BE RAW! They will cook in the sugar mixture, and if you use nuts that have already been roasted, they will burn, and nobody wants that.
Tools and Cookware:
Parchment Paper or Silicone Liner
Measuring Cup and Spoons
I know that microwave oven powers tend to vary by model, but use your best judgement; some pointers will be given along the way.
Step 2: Sugar Syrup Base
Measure out the amounts specified in the previous step.
Pour the sugar, nuts, and corn syrup into your microwave-safe bowl and mix with your spatula, just combining the ingredients until you haven't got little banks of dry, white sugar throughout the mixture.
Pop it in the microwave for 3-4 minutes, depending on the strength of your microwave.
Step 3: Cooked, Remove, Mix, Repeat
When the four minute are done, carefully remove the bowl from the microwave. The bowl that I used has a handle, which was cool to the touch, but the bowl itself if full of melted sugar is scalding hot, so be sure to use an oven mitt or towel when handling the bowl itself.
The sugar mixture should have changed colours a bit, from that lovely shade of I-don't-want-to-eat-that Gray to a subtly more brownish colour. Take a moment to mix the syrup again, paying close attention to any straggling sugar clumps or uncombined areas.
When you're satisfied that the mix is... well... mixed. Place it back into the microwave for another 3-4 minutes.
While you're waiting, you can line your baking sheet with either your parchment paper or a silicone liner, or if you haven't got either of those, you can just grease it very well. Personally, I'm not a fan of greasy candy, but to each his own...
Step 4: Giving It Flavour...
Remove the syrup mixture from the microwave and give it another quick mix with the spatula, being sure to scrape down the sides and confirming the consistency. Here is where we add in our butter and vanilla. In my experience, the vanilla actually begins to boil a bit, be careful about splashing the already-boiling sugar syrup. Mix the toffee mixture, ensuring that the butter melts completely.
Here is where you can potentially kill your candy: Put it into the microwave for 1-2 minutes, depending on the strength of your microwave. Unless you are absolutely sure that you have a weak microwave and are not worried about burning the nuts, which will happen in this step if you're inattentive, I recommend cooking it in one-minute increments.
Step 5: The Last Ingredient...
...is Love! Haha, just kidding...It's actually baking soda.
Upon removing the toffee mixture from the microwave for the final time, you should smell a delicious buttery aroma, the scent of the nuts, and a lovely golden-brown colour.
Add in your teaspoon of baking soda and mix it in with the spatula. You'll immediately notice a change in colour and an increase in volume.
The baking soda needs to be fresh, otherwise you risk the defluffing of your toffee, and it will become super dense and practically inedible.
Step 6: Pouring and Setting
Pour the mixture out onto your lined baking sheet and spread it thinly all around with the spatula. You should be able to get it a little bit under 1 cm thick, which is ideal. You want it to be quicker to set, easy to break, and not a chore to eat. You can leave it to sit and cool for about 30 minutes at room temperature, but other food was being cooked in the kitchen when I made mine, necessitating a quick trip to the freezer to harden. This also worked out well for my incessant impatience. Yay!
Step 7: Karate Chop!
Once the toffee is completely cooled down (30 minutes at room temperature or 5-10 minutes in the freezer ought to do it), you can proceed to break it up into bite-sized pieces. You can also leave it as a solid piece if you like, covering it in a layer of fine milk chocolate, English Toffee style, but, well, my way's better.
Some people snap the toffee into pieces, some like to use hammers or meat tenderizers, but I find that giving a slab of candy a few good karate chops is cathartic, if a little painful after a while.
Step 8: Chocolate, My Love
For the last step, we dip the individual pieces halfway into the chocolate of choice. Here, I've used dark and white chocolate, as well as having left a few pieces uncoated for those (strange, strange) individuals who don't care for chocolate at all.
To melt the chocolate, put however much you want to use (I used about 1/3 cup of each type) into microwave-safe bowls and heat for a minute and a half. Remove from the microwave and stir until having a smooth consistency, reheating in 30-second increments as necessary. Be careful not to overheat your chocolate!
When that is ready, simply dip the pieces, by hand, into the melted chocolate, covering each piece about halfway. Set each piece onto a fresh sheet of parchment or wax paper to let the chocolate set.
Step 9: Serving, Storing, and Enjoying
When you serve them or eat them yourself, you'll notice a nice chewiness. Sometimes the toffee sticks to your teeth a bit, but that just means that you can savour the flavour all the longer. I've had these babies on a plate, loosely covered with foil, for about a week, and they're still as good as the first day that I made them. Each piece is more than enough to satisfy a sweet tooth, and should be able to last quite a while.
So sweet, so delicious, and so easy to make, how can you resist?