Category: candy

Worth Your Salt (Salted Chocolate Toffee Bites)

Confession: this recipe was the result of a happy accident. I was originally making a simple caramel sauce for brunch this weekend when I absentmindedly let the caramel cook on the stove much longer than anticipated. Even though i had shut the burner off, I forgot to take the caramel out of the pot. So, doing as caramel does, it continued to cook, until it reached a much harder stage, and then it cooled.  Lo and behold, when I went to serve the sauce, all I had was a pot with a brick of toffee at the bottom. I was in a panic. This was supposed to be the star of my brunch! “No problem,” said my easygoing guest. “Just dip it in chocolate and we’ll eat it later!”

Making chocolate is quick and simple, if you follow two rules: 1 – use good quality chocolate pastilles. Poor quality (cheap) chocolate will yield poor results. Uneven melting, poor taste, poor texture, etc.
2. Temper. Always, always temper. If your chocolate reaches a temperature above 50 degrees C, it burns, and though you might not see it, you’ll definitely taste it. The texture will change once it hardens, and it will have an unpleasantly bitter, charred taste.

To make these, all you really have to do is make caramel, pour it out onto a tray, let it cool & break it up into chunks. Then, you melt the chocolate, pour it on top, and let it harden. Hit it a few times with a blunt knife and voila! Salty caramel chocolate brittle.

I hear brittle and I usually think “Christmas,” but you don’t really need an occasion to make this.  It keeps for a few weeks in the fridge, so you can put some in a mason jar, wrap a piece of twine around it and you’ve got a pretty last-minute hostess gift. You can also just save it all for yourself – it makes a great snack when you’re torn between salty and sweet – that is, if you have the willpower not to eat it all in one sitting. Seriously. Make this. This stuff is delicious and dangerous and addictive and full of unadulterated happiness.

Salted Chocolate Toffee Bites
an original recipe by allison sklar

what you’ll need

caramel sauce
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 tbsp butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
pinch sea salt

chocolate
1 cup good quality dark or milk chocolate pastilles (I used 70%)
pinch sea salt


In a heavy bottomed saucepan, warm butter over medium heat. Add brown sugar and cream. Stir with a heatproof spatula in figure 8 motion, until sugar is dissolved. Continue cooking, stirring slowly but constantly, until mixture begins to thicken, about 6 minutes. Turn heat to low and continue cooking until mixture reaches 155C, about 10 more minutes. Add salt. Pour onto parchment lined baking sheet. Mixture will spread out and harden as it cools.

Once it is cool, break up the caramel into small chunks, leaving it on the parchment.  

Melt chocolate over a Bain Marie (A Bain Marie is a bowl placed over a pot of boiling water. The steam will heat the bowl and the chocolate will slowly melt. Do not place chocolate directly on the stove, or it will heat too quickly and you’ll have a burnt, uneven result.)

Pour chocolate over caramel chunks. Place in fridge or freezer to cool about 5 minutes. Sprinkle sea salt on top only once chocolate begins to cool. You want the salt to stick to the top, not to melt in.

Once the chocolate has fully hardened, break it into brittle-sized chunks & serve. 




Weekend Treat (Peanut Butter and Toffee Blondies)

How does a single 20-something spend a long weekend? Start it out right with a good workout. Have a healthy dinner (with 2 glasses of wine, good for the heart, right?) Note to self: apply makeup before wine next time. Sing out loud to your iPod on the metro. Arrive at party. Continue to drink, because it’s such a summery wine, and such a nice evening! Flurry of events occur. Wake up. Apply new makeup over old makeup. You’re going for the smudged look. It’s a thing. Slowly stumble, in your party dress and heels, to find the greasiest breakfast possible. Eat sausages. Forgetting you’re a vegetarian. Sleep on the metro. Get back to your own bed. Watch some bizarre indie films on Netflix. Roll in and out of sleep for 24 hours. Wake up and wonder why drinking your early 20s didn’t feel this painful. Is it Sunday already? Where did Saturday go? Vow to yourself to drink less, be healthier. Spoonful of peanut butter. Baking inspiration! Bake some ridiculously delicious, portion-controlled blondies.

I can be healthy on Monday.
It’s still the weekend.

Two-Bite PB Blondies
an original recipe by allison sklar

what you’ll need
½ cup margarine or softened butter

½ cup peanut butter
½ cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup flour
¾ tsp baking powder

1/4 cup Skor toffee bits*
handful of chocolate chips
*1 crushed Skor (or Heath or other crunchy toffee) bar would work just as well

how to do it
Fit stand mixer with paddle attachment. Preheat oven to 350F. Combine margarine, sugar, peanut butter and vanilla. Beat until  smooth, about a minute. Add eggs, beating another 30 seconds. Add flour and baking powder, mix until just combined. Grease and flour mini muffin tins. Fill about 3/4 of the way to the top with mixture. Top with chocolate chips and sprinkle with Skor bits. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool before eating.

Sugar Sugar (Sucre-à-la-Crème / Maple Fudge)

Reasons to make this fudge: Because I don’t celebrate Christmas. Because I love candy. Because I am Québécoise. Because this is my favorite thing in the world to eat. Because I’ve never made it before. Because I like to be challenged. Because edible gifts are the best kind of gifts. Because I have a new thermometer. 
Because I wanted to. 
Just because. 
This fudge is a traditional Quebecois recipe that I’ve been wanting to attempt for quite some time. Unfortunately, I’ve always been intimidated by any recipe that calls for a thermometer, as I’ve had a few caramel disasters in the past. (Caramel melting the bowl to the bottom of the microwave, caramel burning to the pot, caramel burning my hand, caramel burning my tongue, caramel burning…) 
Leaving the past in the past, I now feel confident enough in the kitchen to consider myself somewhere between novice and expert, and definitely ready for a challenge. And when my challenge is presented in a way that makes it look easy, well I just have to take it on.
Just before slipping into a food coma from all of my holiday indulgences, I watched as Chuck Hughes came on television and demonstrated just how simple this traditional fudge is to make. Texting myself the ingredients as I listened (because, you know, paper and pens are sooo 2005), I knew I had to rush home and make this stuff. As soon as humanly possible. 
And then again a second time. 
You know, for gifts. 
Traditional Sucre-a-la-Creme 
(French Canadian Maple Fudge)
recipe adapted from the Food Network’s Chuck Hughes
note: the original recipe calls for one tbsp of butter. I found my fudge to be a little on the greasy side and believe that it should be done with less. I also omitted the pecans, as I wanted a more traditional variety. 
what you’ll need
1 ½ cups brown sugar
1 cup 35% cream
½ cup sugar
½  cup maple syrup
½  tsp butter
Pinch sea salt

how to do it
Line an 8” x 8”square pan with plastic wrap and lightly oil.
In a saucepan, combine the brown sugar, cream, sugar, maple syrup, butter and salt and bring to a boil, stirring with a heatproof spatula. Simmer over medium heat until a candy thermometer reads 237 degrees F (114 degrees C). Add the vanilla extract without stirring.
Prepare a bowl large enough to fit the saucepan into. Fill with cold water and ice.
Once the candy reaches 237 degrees, place the pan immediately into a cold water bath. Cool, without stirring, until the thermometer reads 113 degrees F (45 degrees C), about 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove the pan from the water bath. Using an electric mixer or a wooden spoon, stir vigorously until the mixture begins to lighten in color and become creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Do not over-whip, as the sugar and cream mixture will harden before you have time to pour it into the pan.