Thanksgiving is over, and you know what that means? It’s Christmas! Time for baking and cinnamon pine cones and “Home Alone” and endless trips to the post office for packages!
Here in Canada, Thanksgiving is actually before Halloween, so you get the official go ahead to put up decorations after Remembrance Day. In our house, decorations don’t go up and Christmas music is not played until the first day of December. So I have a few more days to go, but I am definitely getting excited. Baby J just turned 1 year old, and I know it will be quite the experience for her!
To begin the Christmas season, I thought it would be great to start with a Christmas candy recipe, and what could be more appropriate for Turquoise Toffee than some homemade Sponge Toffee?
The recipe I used was from the CBC but I actually found it to be a little lacking in details, so I’m re-writing it here for you with my tips added in. The most important tool is definitely a candy thermometer, which you can get at Williams Sonoma.
2.5 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup white corn syrup
1/3 cup water
4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla
Bowl of cold water with a pastry brush for step three
Optional: milk chocolate for dipping
one: get your baking soda and vanilla measured into little bowls for later (you will need them quickly in step four). Prepare a 13 x 9 inch cake/brownie pan (it has to have sides, it can’t be a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan) by spraying with oil and lining with parchment paper or tin foil.
two: in a large (3 litre) pot, stir the sugar and corn syrup in the water over medium heat until they dissolve. This takes a while–when you run your wooden spoon across the bottom of the pot, you will feel the grains of the sugar for what feels like an eternity! Just keep stirring. Play some good music and make sure you have nothing else to do. It took at least ten minutes.
three: suddenly and without warning, the liquid will turn clear and begin to boil. Stop stirring. Use the pastry brush dipped in the cold water to brush the sides of the pot an inch or two above the liquid. You’re essentially cleaning the pot so the sugar doesn’t have a chance to stick to the sides. You don’t need to do this constantly, but don’t go too long between brushing or else the sugar won’t wipe off the sides (my husband and I slow danced to ’40s music in the kitchen and whenever someone got close to the stove they brushed the pot!). Continue brushing and not stirring until your candy thermometer reaches the hard-crack stage, 300F/149C. This happened slowly at first then the temperature rose fast as it got hotter. It took another ten minutes or so.
four: immediately remove the pot from the heat. Avert your face and whisk in the baking soda (it will puff up) then the vanilla. Pour it into the cake pan as evenly as you can–it starts setting right away so you can’t smooth it out once it’s poured. Put the pan on a wire rack and let it cool for at least two hours.
five: use your hands to break the toffee into hundreds of bite sized pieces! There will be some that just crumble and others that are way too small to dip in chocolate, but those pieces can easily be eaten by the handful! If you want, melt your milk chocolate and dip in a corner of the toffee, then allow it to dry on the wire rack. I noticed that the temperature of the chocolate affected the way these looked–my first melt resulted in little dots in the chocolate (see the picture) whereas my second melt of the same milk chocolate did not. I think I was just faster the second time around so the chocolate was hotter when I dipped. If you have another explanation let me know in the comments!
These taste just like a Cadbury Crunchie Bar! They were a little time consuming and admittedly a bit intimidating, but ultimately extremely easy and crowd pleasing. A perfectly impressive yet simple Christmas Candy. Enjoy, and stay tuned for more Christmas baking!
Maxwell and Williams Basics Sandwich Tray: Hudson’s Bay