Monday, December 10, 2012

Delicious! Butter Crunch Candy

home-made butter crunch
Every year I was a child, I looked forward to Judith Leudeman's fudge. Judith made wonderful chocolate walnut fudge, which she gave my family every December. It was always prettily wrapped, and I always anticipated it happily. That memory spurred me to try my own hand at candy-making years later. Since that time, I have made numerous candies: chocolate fudge, peanut butter fudge, thin mints, candied walnuts, buckeyes, peppermint patties, and coconut balls, to name a few. Nowadays, I make just one—butter crunch. It was always the most popular and widely appreciated. Even though I posted this recipe a few months back, I'm reposting for those who may have missed it or ignored it because they were not then thinking about holiday cooking.

For some reason, homemade candy seems to impress people more than other homemade foods, such as cookies or jam. Yet it's not difficult if follow a few rules. First, don't make candy on rainy or moist days. It doesn't work well. Second, follow the directions carefully. If the recipe says don't stir, don't stir. If it says let cool undisturbed, let it cool undisturbed. Also, use a wooden spoon instead of metal.

Butter crunch, or butter toffee as some call it, is the delicious result of a chemical reaction that occurs when butter and sugar are cooked to the perfect temperature, about 294 degrees Fahrenheit. (At least that's the temperature I've read; I actually don't use a thermometer. Most candy thermometers are large bulky items and hard to place correctly.)

Here's the recipe for my butter crunch and the steps:

1/2 lb. butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 c. blanched almonds (i use half toasted with skins)
1/2 lg. bag chocolate chips
Chop 1/3 blanched nuts fine. 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. This takes only a few minutes. At first, the mixture is grainy and yellowish white. Then it begins to change color.  (Remove the pan from the heat while you test it, so as not to overcook.) Once it has reached the correct stage, immediately pour onto a large, flat cookie sheet or baking pan. I put this on a rack so it doesn't burn the counter top. Let cool slightly until the top is firm to the touch.. 

 Then sprinkle with chocolate chips. (My son prefers peanut butter chips; you could probably use white chocolate as well.) Let them melt and smear them around. Chop the rest of the nuts fine and sprinkle over the  chocolate. Press them into the chocolate slightly. Now let this cool thoroughly. I let it cool on a counter top for an hour and then refrigerate it until stone cold. Then it can easily be broken into pieces and stored in airtight containers. 

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