Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Salted Cashew Toffee

Sorry for the lack of posts in the past week. I had a whole folder of previously-made recipes I hadn't gotten around to posting yet, but it seems I've now posted all of them! So this weekend, I figured it was time to get baking! I wanted something quick, but also delicious. I've recently discovered the amazingness (is that even a word?) that is candy making, because it doesn't take too long and has endless variations. Have I ever mentioned how wonderful homemade peanut butter cups are? But more on that another time...
Several years ago my best friend gave me a cookbook for Christmas. The recipes all look delicious and decadent, and it's one of those books you can just look through like a catalog. It makes you almost drool. That book is Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey. It's become pretty famous,and my friend didn't know this, but I had actually been meaning to find someplace to buy it for a while. I was happy to get it! This weekend I was flipping through the book for inspiration, and I found the perfect candy recipe. It was so quick but so delicious!
This candy is crunchy (VERY crunchy - be warned, those of you that happen to be older / are babies. It is sweet but definitely salty, due to both the salted cashews and the salt in the toffee itself. I'm loving this salty-sweet thing - it all started with these caramels! I have made toffee several times before, and always make this almond-chocolate toffee, but this is completely different. Equally good, but a whole different idea. Try it for yourself!

Salted Cashew Toffee
(from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey)

1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons water
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt [I might actually cut this down to 1/2 - it was a little much]
2 heaping cups salted cashew halves

Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large saucepan, combine the butter, water, sugar, and lemon juice.
Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. When the mixture starts to boil, stop stirring and cook until the mixture reaches the hard-crack stage (about 300F - when dropped in cold water, syrup will immediately harden into brittle threads that break easily when handled - careful when touching, it is hot!), 5 to 8 minutes.
Immediately remove the pan from the heat and stir in the baking soda, salt, and the cashews. The syrup will boil and puff up when the baking soda is added - just keep stirring until it simmers down. (Adding baking soda aerates the syrup for a crisp, light-textured candy that won't break your tooth when you bite into it.)
Pour the candy mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Using a rubber spatula, work quickly as the candy cools to spread it onto an approximately 9-by-13-inch rectangle, keeping the nuts in a single layer.
Set the baking sheet on a wire rack and let the candy cool completely.
When the candy is hard, break it into medium-size pieces to serve.
Makes about 2 pounds.


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