I have been making candy since daughter was in college and her crazy friend Dave got us hooked....Dave started out making chocolate lolly pops and over the years we have taken it one step further.....Candy making is easy, it's fun and you can really impress people who think it's some sort of mystery treat....We started with the basic melt and pour system and I have more molds for every occasion then you can count....I expanded my repertoire years ago when I added coconut haystacks, chocolate covered cherries, lemon white chocolate bark and the Boss's favorite....Butter Nut Toffee....Today I made the toffee....A bit harder then the others but with a little patience (think stirring pudding only a little bit longer) you can make a very impressive gift for someone.....The secret to your success is once again in the packaging......I have seen for sale many a "pop" wrapped up in their little cellophane bags only to be tied shut with curly ribbon....you know that stuff you can curl with a scissor....Not a good choice...The cellophane bags are great and fairly cheap.I always use a gold sticker announcing that it's "Homemade Candy".....to go with the sticker I use gold metallic ribbon...not cut too short and tied in a bow...If a man is getting the candy I use raffia or brown twine....Michael's is a great place to pick up their $1.00 special ribbon on a roll and I use this often. They always have cute patterns like polka dots and stripes....This kicks the visual appeal up a notch...on to the candy process.......
Ingredients......this recipe has been cut in half by me, I think it's easier to work with making just one pound at a time....I just don't move fast enough to make two trays at one time....You will need a candy thermometer which you can get at Target or Walmart, the cheap ones work just as well as the Williams Sonoma expensive ones....Just make sure it has a clip.
1 1/2 cups of chopped, toasted almonds...divided.
3 Hershey's milk chocolate bars or about 1 cup of Merkins candy disks (found at most candy making supply stores....Michael's also sells Wilton candy disks but I'm not crazy about them)
2 sticks of good quality butter (do not use margarine)
1 cup of granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons of water
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla.
Scatter half of the almonds on parchment paper on a large cookie sheet. In a heavy 3 qt. saucepan bring the butter, sugar and water to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves, Stir constantly until the candy thermometer reaches 300 degrees, the "hard crack stage". This takes patience and will take about 5 minutes to reach 300. Use a deep saucepan with high sides so the candy thermometer can clip onto the edge of the pan....I always forget to do this, and I find myself stirring with one hand and holding onto the thermometer for dear life trying not to get burnt with the other.....Once it reaches the right temperature remove from the heat and quickly stir in the vanilla...Immediately pour a thin layer of hot toffee over the almonds that you have spread over the baking sheet.
Break up your chocolate if your using candy bars into a microwave proof bowl. Heat for 1 minute 20 seconds, take out and stir...heat at 10 second intervals stirring in between until chocolate is fully melted. Using a flat knife or spatula spread the melted chocolate over the toffee.....Sprinkle the remaining half of the almonds over the chocolate and press lightly with your hands...Let stand until chocolate is firm. You can also put this in the fridge or freezer until set up. Break up into semi-large pieces....Stand back and accept the compliments!!
Note: homemade candy makes a great "favor" for wedding receptions or showers.....When daughter got married I made 300 pieces of coconut haystacks for the men guests. Each getting 6 pieces each. I made them in Georgia and shipped them up packaged in shoe boxes to New York...We wrapped them the night before the wedding and I must say they were a big hit with the gentlemen....For the ladies...daughter is a photographer so we took 4 of her favorite prints from Paris and had them made into note cards....Each lady guest got a box of 12 note cards...3 cards of each of the 4 prints...Everyone seemed to like the personal touch of the gift.....