Todays Chocolate Week recipe is confectionary which, yes, does involve the boiling of sugar, up to 149C in fact. I know this can make people wary and put them off trying a recipe but, trust me, this is a simple recipe that takes just 20 minutes to make and as a bonus there is a good chance you have everything at hand to make it. Before we get to the recipe I want to talk about the name. It is generally known as English Toffee but quizzically not really in England itself. It seems to be an American affectation and I cant really find a reason for the name. My basic assumption is that is was at one point made by a Brit in the US and a nickname sprung from that fact. Either way it is a delicious treat that is a simple combination of toffee, a thin layer of chocolate and most regularly chopped almonds.
As it is now clear that summer is over and the cold has moved in for the rest of the year, this is the perfect autumn treat, in fact it would be fabulous for Bonfire Night and Halloween; those nights where a thick coat is required with a little paper bag of sweets stashed in the pocket. The only piece of equipment you absolutely must use is a candy thermometer. You can go fancy and use an electric version or stay basic and use a cheap jam thermometer, but you do need to measure the temperature accurately so no skipping the thermometer, well unless you like dipping your fingers into boiling hot caramel to measure it (im not joking that is the original way of judging candy).
100g caster sugar
100g light brown muscavado sugar
225g unsalted butter
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla
85g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
50g toasted almonds, roughly chopped
To make the toffee very lightly oil a baking tray and set aside.
Place the sugar and the butter into a medium sized, heavy bottomed saucepan and place over a medium heat. Stir until the butter and sugar have melted. Add the salt and water and cook, stirring regularly until the mixture reaches 149C/300F, this will take about 15 minutes. Watch the temperature carefully as it will rise slowly at first before suddenly rising rapidly. If, during cooking, you notice sugar clinging to the side of the pan either place a lid on the pan for a minute or brush the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush. Both methods clean any sugar from the sides of the pan, stopping any possible caramelisation in its tracks.
Once at the correct temperature quickly remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla and immediately pour onto the pan, spreading into a rectangle roughly 20x30cm. Sprinkling the chocolate roughly over the toffee and set aside for about 5 minutes or until the chocolate melts. Spread the chocolate evenly over the toffee and sprinkle over the toffee. Set aside to cool for a while before placing into the fridge for an hour or so until everything is set. Remove from the fridge and use a knife to cut into pieces. Because the chocolate hasn't been tempered I keep the toffee in the fridge where it will keep for up to three days. If you temper the chocolate, spreading onto the cooled caramel, this will keep for a lot longer, at room temperature.