Sunday, October 14, 2012

'Tis the Season....

I always find it hard to give up summer's fresh fruits and vegetables. That is, I find it hard until I am reminded of all those cold-weather foods that I love and have not enjoyed for months. Hot soups, panini sandwiches, and roast chicken are a few of the fall/winter foods I seldom eat in warm weather.

Another is homemade candy. First of all, candy doesn't cook correctly on a humid day, so I don't even try to make it in the summer. But in fall, it's a quick and easy treat to make, mainly to share with others. It's a great dish to bring to a potluck, because for some reason many people never make candy. Some may have had past failures trying to determine exactly what the soft-ball stage is, while others may fear they will eat the whole batch.

My favorite candy (maybe because it has so few ingredients) is butter toffee, which I make with a chocolate coating. I usually have the ingredients on hand, and I can make it in less than half an hour and eat or serve it a few hours later. One trick with candy-making is to watch it like a hawk. It can quickly go from raw to burnt. When you test it, remove the pan from the heat while you do so. This way, if it has reached the correct temperature, it doesn't overcook while you're testing it.

Here's the recipe I use:
   • 1/2 lb. butter
   • 1 1/2 c. sugar
   • 1 c. blanched almonds or use half blanched and half with skins
   • 1/2 lg. bag semisweet chocolate chips

Chop 1/3  nuts finely. Put them, the butter and sugar into a large pan. Cook over high heat, stirring constantly, until the almonds turn brown and the mixture forms a hard ball in cold water. Immediately pour onto a large, flat cookie sheet or baking pan. Let cool slightly. Then sprinkle with chocolate chips. Let them melt, and smear them around. Chop the rest of the nuts fine and sprinkle over warm chocolate. Press in lightly. Let cool thoroughly. I refrigerate mine for about an hour. Break into irregular pieces and store in airtight container. It keeps for quite a while that way.

I've made this with sweet chocolate, with peanut butter chips, and even with white chocolate, but the semisweet is my favorite. 

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