Your Basic Nut Toffee

A candy thermometer is a must! There is no recipe in tis book that caused as much frustration and as much revision as this one: I don’t even want to describe how sizeable and how icky my failures were. In fact, until I found this recipe, a slight variation of Helen Witty’s (from The Good Stuff Cookbook), I had despaired of including a recipe for toffee. And yet… really good toffee is so good that I persisted.

The amount of nuts in this recipe produces toffee the way I like it: completely immersed in nuts. If you prefer yours only dotted, simple reduce the quantity of nuts.
I you want your toffee thin, be sure to finely chop the nuts. If you want it thick and bumpy, leave them either whole or coarsely chopped.

¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter
1¾ cups sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 cups lightly toasted roasted almonds, pecans, or pistachio nuts, or the party nuts of your choice (see Not Your Mother’s Peanut Brittle), chopped or left whole
4 to 6 ounces high-quality semi-sweet, bittersweet, or milk chocolate (optional), to taste, chopped
½ cup finely chopped lightly toasted party nuts of your choice or coconut

Makes 1 pound.

1. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper. Butter an offset spatula.

2. Place the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan (larger than you imagine you will need) and, when it is halfway melted, add the sugar, corn syrup, and vinegar. Bring to a boil over high heat and continue to cook, stirring the whole time, until it reaches the soft-crack stage and is a pale golden brown, 275 to 290 degrees on the candy thermometer, 12 to 15 minutes.

3. Quickly stir in the nuts and pour immediately onto the prepared sheet. Using the buttered spatula, spread the toffee as thinly as possible. Let stand for 1 minute, then sprinkle with the chopped chocolate, if using. Let stand for 2 minutes to soften, then spread the chocolate with the back of a spoon or rubber spatula until it has melted. Sprinkle evenly with the chopped nuts. (Omit them if you aren’t using the chocolate.) Set aside to cool completely, then break into large pieces.

4. Store the toffee in an airtight container, where it will keep for 2 to 3 weeks.

From Party Nuts! 50 Recipes for Spicy, Sweet, Savory, and Simply Sensational Nuts That Will Be the Hit of Any Gathering (The Harvard Common Press, 2002)