Christmas Eve at Grandpa and Grandma Tobin's was always a highlight of my year. The house would be overflowing with people (my grandparents had seven children!). After a bit, we'd hear sleigh bells and footsteps, and Santa would make his way downstairs with presents for all the kids. When Santa left, we'd break open the Christmas pinata my relatives from Arizona sent, and we'd scramble for the candy inside. We'd sing Christmas carols around the piano.
Dad's famous toffee was always out on the table. Toffee wasn't my go-to dessert as a kid, but I've grown to love it as an adult, particularly this version I've doctored up with a little chocolate.
If you're looking for an easy Christmas gift to share with your friends or co-workers, this toffee will definitely do the trick. And if you're carrying around any extra holiday stress, whacking the bottom of the pan repeatedly will help relieve it.
Dad's Famous Toffee
By accident, my mother and aunt both made batches of toffee with one stick of butter instead of two. They claimed they couldn't tell the difference between the two batches. I went for the full-fat version when making my toffee (my general preference when baking), but if you're looking for a slightly healthier option, try one stick of butter.
1 cup of butter, salted
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons of water
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 cup bittersweet chocolate (optional)
1 candy thermometer
Butter a large metal baking sheet and set aside.
Combine all the ingredients (except walnuts and chocolate) in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Stir continuously until the temperature on the candy thermometer reaches 270 degrees. The mixture will be light brown.
Add 1 cup chopped walnuts, stirring to incorporate. Continue stirring until the mixture reaches a deep golden brown.
Remove from the heat and immediately pour onto a prepared baking sheet, tilting the pan to ensure the mixture spreads across the pan.
Wait two minutes, and then top with chopped bittersweet chocolate. Let the chocolate melt for two minutes, and then use a spatula to spread the chocolate evenly over the toffee.
Allow the toffee to cool completely and harden. Once cool, you should be able to lift it off the cookie sheet. Break the toffee into manageable pieces for eating with a knife or by hitting the bottom of the cookie sheet with a spoon.