Tuesday, December 21, 2010

English Toffee *Lauren Perry*

I have tried 3 different recipes over the past year and I could not get my toffee to turn out good! I was not going to let a simple recipe conquer me, especially since I am a huge fan of English Toffee. Its a ton of work and you need a lot of elbow grease, but everyone always appreciate a homemade candy treat. I called a "toffee queen" in my neighborhood and she walked me step by step through the process with this yummy recipe (I literally called here every 5 minutes while I made it). It turned out wonderful. Let's just say I had to burn 4 lbs of sugar and butter over the past year to finally find a keeper recipe.

2 1/2 cups of sugar
1 lbs of butter (4 sticks)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup karo syrup
1 tbs vanilla
1 bag of choc/chips or 2 large chocolate candy bars (I love Ghirardelli milk chocolate or Symphony plain milk chocolate bars)
pecans chopped (you could do as much as you want, I probably chopped 1 1/2-2 cups)

Directions for dummies... helpful tips
-Use a deep pot because the sugar might boil over, you want it to get foamy and boil
-melt the butter, water, vanilla and Karo syrup on med/low heat until the butter is fully melted
-use a WOODEN spoon. I did not know this but its very important
-spray a little cooking spray on a large cookie sheet or 2 9 x 13 's
-sprinkle your chopped pecans evenly on the cookie sheet/cake pans
-add the sugar to the melted butter stuff and stir with wooden spoon CONSTANTLY. You can walk away for a minute here and there, but you pretty much have to babysit the sugar and stir it for a good 25 minutes on MED/HIGH heat.
-you want the sugar grains to go away and you want it to glaze on the spoon. Make sure you don't have grainy sugar around the edges of the pot by constantly mixing it. It is going to get very foamy and raise, that is ok. Eventually it will thicken, change to a carmel color and drop a bit. If it gets to close to the top, remove it from the heat for 30 seconds here and there (while constantly mixing) and put it back on.
-It will be a pretty/light tan/golden color. A test to see if the candy is cooked, take a glass of cold water and use a drop of the toffee- let it drip off of the spoon into the cup on cold water. Let it sit about 30 seconds and taste it, make sure it is crunchy and not chewy. If its chewy, then its not all of the way cooked
-Pour the cooked toffee over the nuts and let it sit about 7-10 minutes.
-Add your favorite chocolate and let it melt, then take a spatula and spread it evenly over the harden (but warm) toffee. Immediately put in fridge (it takes way too long for the chocolate to harden at room temp)
-Once its hardened, let it sit on the counter for about 10 minutes at room temp and then chop up good size chunks and enjoy!

Candied Bacon *Lauren Perry*

Doesn't the name alone clog your arteries? My best friend Jaime told me about this little gem, and I am obsessed! It is delicious in a salad or on its own. You can wrap it around those little smokes and bake them, you can add them to the cheesey onion dip (I've posted this recipe before). All I know is, you CANNOT go through life without trying this atleast once!

1 lb of quality bacon (I love a thick applewood smoked, splurge and spend the extra $2 for the good stuff)
about 1/2 a cup of brown sugar

- extra optionals, chopped pecans once the bacon is cooked

Put on foil on a cookie sheet and bake at 320 for about 20 + minutes, or use a microwave bacon tray (the easiest way). Lay the bacon out and use a generous amount of brown sugar. Cook until crispy but not burned. Once you remove from the heat or microwave, add an extra little amount of brown sugar (and chopped pecans if desired) and let it sit for about 10 minutes until it hardens and candies. Eat plain or chop in salad-

Sample Salad

Chopped Romaine Hearts (1 bag)
1 bunch green onions chopped
1 lb of candied bacon, chop into large pieces
1-2 avocado, cubed into small pieces
sliced almonds (I buy the honey glazed)
1 small container of feta cheese
your favorite dressing (I love Girards Champagne Dressing)