Chocolate Hazelnut Buttercrunch Toffee

December 14, 2010

I have no idea how people work normal jobs. I spent the last two days in a classroom from 9-5 and went completely stir crazy. I like learning, but I could not stand sitting down all day. Or driving in rush hour traffic (I suppose there is some benefit to being out the door at 6am). Or becoming overwhelmed by intense food coma after lunch. Or noticing the most annoying subtleties in temperature change (jacket on, jacket off, jacket on). Or wondering how long before it was appropriate to take another bathroom break. What am I, a third grader? I somehow completed 4 years of college and a year and half long nursing program despite this. In hindsight, I have no idea how.

This class helped me realize that I need to constantly walk (or speed walk) around.  I need to have different tasks at hand, and I appreciate the occasional crisis that makes things exciting. Oh, nursing has its problems for sure, but I’m rarely bored. And even though I whine sometimes, I can’t imagine doing anything but nursing. And I really can’t imagine being a student again any time soon.

Another thing I realized in this class is that despite my best efforts, I always manage to sit next to the person that “adds on” to everything the professor says and answers questions from other students that were meant for the professor. This person also tends to nod vigorously (and with great frequency), and will often lay her head down on her desk in boredom except when she pipes up to answer a question before anyone else, without being called on. I really need to figure out how to prevent this from happening again

There was one very funny thing that happened in the classroom. The hospital said they would provide us with breakfast, lunch, and a snack. At lunch, they brought us a sheet cake for dessert. We ate about half the sheet cake at lunch. At 3pm, they cleared our lunch away. They took the half eaten sheet cake away, and replaced it with a brand new sheet cake (our snack). They did this two days in a row.

You’re probably wondering about this toffee, aren’t you? Well, occasionally, I make something so delicious that I say, “Shit, I’m awesome.” Out loud, to myself, in my kitchen. This toffee was an “Awwww shiiiit” moment (not to be confused with an “OH SHIT” moment, of which I have plenty).

Next post, I’ll be talking about a really easy, but very nice homemade gift you can give. Easier than this toffee but still thoughtful.

CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT BUTTERCRUNCH TOFFEE (adapted from David Lebovitz’s Chocolate Almond Buttercrunch Toffee)

Do yourself a favor and test your candy thermometer to make sure it works before you go through the trouble of making toffee. I lost a batch of caramel because of an inaccurate thermometer last year, and I don’t intend to ever do that again. It’s easy as boiling water. Boil water and stick the candy thermometer in. It should read 212 degrees if you live at sea level. If you live at altitude, check out this nifty chart to find out what temperature your thermometer should read.

My only alteration was to decrease the amount of nuts, since I don’t like things that are too nutty

Also, if I were you I’d add an extra tablespoon of water if you live at high altitude. I did and it worked well.

Toast hazelnuts for 8-12 minutes at 325 degrees, stirring occasionally

Ingredients

3/4 cup (8 ounces, 225 g) toasted almonds or hazelnuts, chopped between ‘fine’ and ‘coarse’
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup (1 stick, 115 g) salted or unsalted butter, cut into pieces
a nice, big pinch of salt
1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (50 g) packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 ounces (140 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped, or 1 cup chocolate chips

optional: fleur de sel

Recipe

1. Lightly oil a baking sheet with an unflavored vegetable oil.

2. Sprinkle half the nuts into a rectangle about 8″ x 10″ (20 x 25 cm) on the baking sheet.

3. In a medium heavy-duty saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, heat the water, butter, salt, and both sugars. Cook, stirring as little as possible, until the thermometer reads 300 F degrees. Have the vanilla and baking soda handy.

4. Immediately remove from heat and stir in the baking soda and vanilla.

5. Quickly pour the mixture over the nuts on the baking sheet. Try to pour the mixture so it forms a relatively even layer. (If necessary, gently but quickly spread with a spatula, but don’t overwork it.)

5. Strew the chocolate pieces over the top and let stand 2 minutes, then spread in an even layer.

6. If using, sprinkle with a flurry of fleur des sel. Sprinkle the remaining nuts over the chocolate and gently press them in with your hands.

7. Cool completely (refrigerate 30 mins to speed things up) and break into pieces to serve. Store in an airtight container, for up to ten days.

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