Lisa’s Letters Home: A Tale of Two Candies

Lisa’s Letters Home: A Tale of Two Candies

I asked a few teacher friends of mine whether or not they enjoyed receiving homemade presents from their students at Christmas or store bought. All agreed that homemade (and the simpler, the better) was their preference. This is a big plus for me because not only does it save us a few pennies, it saves me a trip to the mall. My goodness, do I hate the mall in December.

I got the idea to make candies for teacher presents because they can be made in advance and travel well – an important consideration when they’re going to be bashed about in a primary schooler’s book bag. They are also something the kids can help assemble or in the case of the second recipe, bash into pieces. (This part really appealed to my 7-year-old.)

My lovely friend Annalisa Barbieri mentioned that she was making a batch of salted caramel chocolates (http://paneamoreechachacha.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/salted-caramel-chocolates.html), which looked like it involved a lot less fuss than the salted caramels I was going to make for teacher presents. Her recipe doesn’t call for fretting over caramel and constantly taking its temperature like a poorly toddler.

I know, I know – salted sweets are all over the place right now – but these chocolates are so simple and delicious. The caramel is incredibly sweet, but combined with the dark chocolate and salt, strikes a lovely balance.

It’s a pretty little chocolate, and best of all, you don’t even need to make the caramel for the filling. Slacker mum APPROVES. I did end up making some caramel, mostly because I could use it for other things (like for stuffing my face.) There are a lot of no-fuss salted caramel recipes out there that will work really nicely, like this one from Nigella Lawson: http://www.nigella.com/recipes/view/salted-caramel-sauce

You can keep the caramel in the fridge for a week or two, and you can microwave it for a few seconds if you want to use it as a sauce on ice cream. To make the chocolates, I used petite fours moulds I got from a cake supply shop online, which cost less than £2.

The second candy we made does require a bit of babysitting, but it’s worth the effort. I was looking up recipes for chocolate bark (which, incidentally, is one of the easiest things to make and also make great gifts) and came across this one for chocolate toffee butter crunch: http://www.bhg.com/recipe/candy/toffee-butter-crunch/ I hoped that it would turn out like a Skor (Dime bar), and it did. With nuts on top! It’s like chocolate-covered crack. I need it out of my fridge yesterday.

Both candies can be made at least one week in advance, and will happily live in the fridge for about two weeks. I wouldn’t normally keep chocolate in the fridge, but these treats don’t get that white haze on them that refrigerated chocolate normally does. Don’t ask me why; it’s probably something really sciencey.

 

Lisa’s Letters Home: A Tale of Two Candies

Ingredients

  • For the chocolate caramels:
  • (Makes about a dozen chocolates, depending on the size of your moulds)
  • 200g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids –  I love Green & Black’s)
  • Caramel sauce
  • For the chocolate toffee butter crunch: (Makes about 1 ½ pounds)
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped almonds or pecans, toasted
  • 1 cup (227g) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup or liquid glucose
  • ¾ cup semisweet chocolate pieces (or dark – whatever you prefer)
  • ½ cup finely chopped almonds or pecans, toasted

Method

For the caramels:

Make your caramel sauce ahead of time to ensure it’s cooled (and solidified) a bit before using it for the chocolates.

Melt the chocolate over a bain marie or in the microwave (just make sure you keep an eye on it because over-microwaved chocolate burns, big time.)

Pour enough chocolate in the mould to cover the bottom, and refrigerate for about 5 minutes until it hardens.

Put a little blob of caramel on top and make sure you leave a gap at the sides so the chocolate can surround it.

If you’re using store bought caramel, sprinkle a tiny bit of sea salt on top. Pour more chocolate on top until the caramel is covered. Refrigerate again until hardened.

Unmould the gorgeously glossy little chocolates and store in the fridge.

For the butter crunch:

Line a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with foil, extending foil over edges of pan.

Sprinkle the 1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts in an even layer in the pan.

In a large saucepan, add the butter, sugar, water, and corn syrup/glucose.

Cook and stir over medium-high heat until mixture boils.

Clip a candy thermometer to side of pan and reduce the heat to medium-low.

Continue boiling at a moderate, steady rate, stirring frequently, until the thermometer registers 290F/soft-crack stage.

If you don’t have a thermometer, don’t fret – just boil this until it goes light golden brown after around 15 minutes. Pour the caramel into the prepared pan.

Let the candy stand about 5 minutes or until firm then sprinkle with chocolate.

Wait a couple of minutes and when the chocolate has softened, spread it over the candy.

Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of nuts.

Chill until firm.

When candy is firm, use the foil to lift it out of pan, then break it into pieces.

Store tightly covered.

 

 

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3 Comments

  1. Debra Melberg
    May 21, 20:25 Reply

    I will be in Chocolate Heaven, also my dear friends. Look forward to making these recipes. Thanxs again for great ideas. Love your site.
    Debra

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