Dorothy is one of my best friends, we have shared many things over the years. Secrets, lipstick, big stress fits complete with massive crocodile tears, bottles of wine — you name it, she's seen and been through it all with me. However, the one thing you won't find on that list is time in the kitchen. I'm not telling you anything Dorothy wouldn't offer up herself, she is talented and creative across the board, but ask her to boil water and she might not be able to deliver. So, after brunch on Sunday when I asked her if she wanted to come back to my apartment to cook with me, she looked at me hesitantly and said, "Morgan, are you sure?" Of course I said yes!
What Dorothy lacks in knife skills and general understanding of kitchen appliances, she makes up for in curiosity and patience. (She was the perfect helping hand on this recipe.) Asking questions about why we toast the almonds instead of putting them in the toffee raw. She even did some googling for me when I didn't know what "soft crack stage" was. Her childlike wonder when it comes to cooking is sweet and adorable to me. It was fun to have someone beside me who was eager to learn and help.
This particular recipe was shared by a reader, Denise. Its from her mother-in-law, who makes the toffee almost every Christmas season. Denise claims that she was never a fan of toffee until she bit into this recipe and remembers Colleen bemoaning the humidity of one Los Angeles season as she made it.
What I love most, and what Katie and I go on and on about on this blog, is the ability food has to link people and places, to bring sentiments and memories full circle. I've never met Colleen, and yet, here I am in my kitchen in Washington D.C. sharing her recipe with one of my most cherished and special friends. I say thank you to Colleen and Denise for sharing their recipe and helping create another precious memory to add to the list of many for Dorothy & I.
- Line a 9x13 pan, extending it up over the edge, with foil. Sprinkle the coarsely chopped nuts over the bottom of the pan and set aside.
- Butter the sides of a heavy 2 quart saucepan. Melt butter in the pan, over low heat. Stir in sugar, water & corn syrup. Avoid splashing mixture up the sides of pan. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. (About 4 minutes) Clip on candy thermometer.
- Lower heat to medium. Stirring frequently, cook to "soft-crack" stage (290 degrees). Mixture should boil at a moderately steady rate over the entire surface (approximately 15 minutes)
- When the mixture has reached soft-crack stage, remove from heat and pour into prepared 9x13 pan. Let stand 2 to 3 minutes, until firm. While still hot, but firm, sprinkle with chocolate chips. Let stand 1 to 2 minutes, then spread melted chocolate evenly over the surface. Sprinkle with the finely chopped nuts, pressing them lightly into the chocolate. Chill until firm, and break into pieces.
If you aren't sure what soft-crack stage is, because I sure wasn't, Dorothy and I found this video super helpful! Essentially this is when you take a spoonful of your hot syrup and drop into a bowl of very cold water, when you remove the candy from the water and pull it apart between your fingers it should be firm but pliable.