Traditional English Toffee

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Traditional English Toffee! So often we have those cherished childhood memories of homemade candy and cookies that accompanied holiday celebrations. They stick with us for life. I can remember being in eighth grade and determined to replicate a batch of my mother’s English Toffee. I waited for her to go into town and then pulled out her secret recipe. You know, the ones scratched on a 3.5”x5” card. More often than not, they showed a list of ingredients with instructions that simply said, “Bake at 350° for 30 minutes”. Let’s face it, that’s pretty vague compared to what we explain nowadays. As you can imagine, I melted the butter along with the brown sugar and stirred. And stirred. And stirred. So how come it wasn’t turning into this crisp crunchy texture of rich golden butter that fueled my addiction? What could I possibly be doing wrong? There was nothing written on the card to correct this runny, gooey mess. Alas, I scraped it all into the trash, washed the pan, and plopped myself at the kitchen table with my Algebra book. She walked in, smiled, and never said a word.

TRADITIONAL ENGLISH TOFFEE

Ingredients:

1 cup pecans, chopped

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Instructions:

Butter a baking sheet. Spread pecans in a single layer in the center. Heat butter and brown sugar to boiling in a heavy saucepan, stirring constantly. Boil over Medium heat, stirring constantly, for 7 minutes. Immediately spread mixture over pecans on baking sheet. Sprinkle chocolate chips over hot mixture. Place a cookie sheet over pan until chocolate chips are melted. Spread melted chocolate over candy. Refrigerate until firm. Break toffee into pieces.

Sugar-Spun Sponge Candy

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Sugar-Spun Sponge Candy! Take a walk down Memory Lane. Wonderful childhood memories come flooding back with this old-time classic favorite. You will seldom find it in candy stores unless you happen to stumble upon a family-owned place where the bell above the doorjamb jingles as you cross the threshold. Once inside, the glass showcase will feature this honeycomb-type toffee, golden in color, nestled inside a rich chocolate covering. It’s crisp and air-filled with a sponge-like appearance. Once you’ve had it, the memories linger on. Spoil yourself and make up a batch. Just like magic, it can be whipped up in about 15 minutes. Carry on the tradition, or begin your own this year.

SUGAR-SPUN SPONGE CANDY

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar

1 cup dark corn syrup

1 tablespoon vinegar

1 tablespoon baking soda

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate morsels

3 teaspoons vegetable oil

Instructions:

Combine sugar, corn syrup, and vinegar in a heavy-bottomed 3-quart pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Continue cooking about 10 minutes until mixture reaches 300° on a candy thermometer, or a drop of syrup becomes brittle in a glass of cold water. Immediately remove pan from heat and sift in baking soda. Mixture will foam up madly. Stir gently but thoroughly. Pour into well-buttered 9″ square pan. Do not spread. Let cool. Remove from pan and break into pieces over a large bowl. Sugary crumbs will appear all over the counter if the bowl is too small.

Instructions for Chocolate Coating:

Pour chocolate morsels into a glass bowl. Add 3 teaspoons of vegetable oil. Stir. Place in microwave for 5 minutes on 30% power. Halfway through, stir to blend smooth. Do not over cook. Keep warm on the stovetop over a double boiler. Dip each piece of sponge candy into chocolate. Coat completely or halfway depending on preference. The honeycomb and chocolate look appealing, in my opinion. Place pieces on waxed paper lined sheet pan. Chill to set.

Yummy Salted Caramel Cookie Dough Bars

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Yummy Sea Salt Caramel Cookie Dough Bars! “Honestly, you had me at Salted Caramel”, someone exclaimed to me recently. If you crave chocolate or adore peanut butter, this dessert will grab your attention. Although its golden caramel layer is dotted with mounds of cookie dough infused with white and dark chocolate, underneath lies a layer of peanut butter, oats, and toffee bits. Oh my! You may need a scoop of natural ice cream on top just to cut the sweetness. Trust me when I say, “A little goes a long way!”

YUMMY SALTED CARAMEL COOKIE DOUGH BARS

Ingredients for Cookie Dough:

3/4 cup butter, unsalted

2 cups brown sugar

1/2 cup peanut butter, creamy

2 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla

2 cups flour

1 cup instant oats

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup white chocolate chips

1 cup toffee bits

Ingredients for Caramel Topping:

11 ounce bag of caramels

14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1/4 cup butter

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9″x13″ pan with nonstick oil and line with parchment paper. Using a food processor, cream butter and sugar together. Add peanut butter and blend well. While running, add one egg at a time, thoroughly mixing in each egg. Add vanilla. In a small bowl, combine flour, oats, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add flour mixture to sugar mixture. Fold in chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, and toffee bits. Spread 2/3 of the dough on the bottom of the pan. Meanwhile, unwrap caramels and place in a saucepan with butter and sweetened condensed milk. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until caramels are fully melted. The mixture will be smooth. Slowly pour caramel sauce evenly over dough. Flatten the remaining 1/3 dough like a pancake, cut into squares, roll into balls, and drop randomly over caramel sauce. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle coarse sea salt over all. Cool completely before cutting into bars.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter J

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Java Chip Cookies! Anyone will tell you the aroma of coffee triggers good feelings. If you don’t believe me, check out the neighborhood coffee shops and you’ll find a local place where people hang out. It’s not just the free Wi-Fi either. Coffee is one of the most popular beverages around, especially now with intense flavorings topped with a mound of whipped cream. Transform the blend of coffee and sugar into a cookie, charged with caffeine, and you’ll be as popular as the Pied Piper. People will follow you anywhere!
JAVA CHIP COOKIES
Ingredients:

1 cup butter, room temperature 

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

3 tablespoons espresso instant coffee

1 tablespoon vanilla extract 

2 eggs

3 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup toffee bits

1/4 cup chocolate covered espresso beans, roughly chopped 

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. In a food processor beat butter, sugar, brown sugar, espresso instant coffee, and vanilla extract until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, until blended. Combine flour, baking soda, and sea salt in a separate bowl. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture until it forms a dough. Fold in toffee bits, chopped espresso beans, and mini chocolate chips. Chill dough slightly. Using a melon ball scoop, drop cookie dough onto a baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes. Do not burn. Remove from oven. Let cool for 2 minutes. Dredge java chip cookies in sugar, if desired, before transferring them to a wire rack. Repeat with remaining dough. Yield: 3 dozen, large cookies. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter B

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Banana Toffee Pops! It’s no secret kids love bananas. Adults do, too. With the dog days of summer upon us, make a treat with frozen bananas. Turn them into tasty pops covered in sprinkles or throw them in the blender for a refreshing smoothie. Can’t make up your mind? Do both! 🐵Question: How do you get a monkey down the stairs? 🐒Answer: Have it slide down the banana-ster! 🍌🍌🍌Have a great day!
BANANA TOFFEE POPS
Ingredients:

3 firm bananas, peeled and cut in half

6 popsicle sticks

8 ounces Greek yogurt 

1/3 cup toffee pieces, slightly crushed

1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
Instructions:

Place a sheet of wax paper on a baking sheet. Set aside. Combine toffee pieces and mini chocolate chips. Sprinkle onto a sheet of wax paper. Once the banana is coated in yogurt, you will roll the banana in the toppings before placing on the wax paper-lined baking sheet. Peel bananas. Slice each banana in half. Insert one stick into the bottom end of a banana segment. Working one at a time, spread yogurt all over the banana until it is completely covered. Coat in candy pieces. Place on the baking sheet. Repeat. When all six are complete, place baking sheet in the freezer. Freeze 4 hours or overnight. Keep treats frozen in storage bags until ready to serve.*
*Serving Suggestion: For smaller portions, slice bananas into 2″ chunks. 

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Special Edition: Crunch Compulsion!

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Special Edition: Crunch Compulsion! If you’ve always wanted to make toffee, but didn’t have the patience for standing at the stove waiting for the candy thermometer to reach its mark, think about an easy alternative. Crunch Compulsion has the rich buttery taste of toffee layered over a firm graham cracker base. With a finishing touch of pecans and walnuts, you can certainly see where the “crunch” comes in. 
CRUNCH COMPULSION 
Ingredients:

1 package graham crackers

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

1 cup butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon 
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. 

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the graham crackers in a single layer, completely covering the bottom of the baking sheet. Sprinkle pecans and walnuts over crackers. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine butter, brown sugar, white sugar, cream of tartar, and cinnamon. Stir constantly until mixture boils. Do not burn. Reduce heat to medium and let mixture boil for 3 minutes without stirring. Carefully pour mixture over graham crackers, allowing liquid to cover all. Bake 10 minutes. Cool completely. Break into pieces. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet; Letter Y

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Yummy Sea Salt Caramel Cookie Dough Bars! “Honestly, you had me at Salted Caramel”, someone exclaimed to me recently. If you crave chocolate or adore peanut butter, this dessert will grab your attention. Although its golden caramel layer is dotted with mounds of cookie dough infused with white and dark chocolate, underneath lies a layer of peanut butter, oats, and toffee bits. Oh my! You may need a scoop of natural ice cream on top just to cut the sweetness. Trust me when I say, “A little goes a long way!”
YUMMY SALTED CARAMEL COOKIE DOUGH BARS
Ingredients for Cookie Dough:

3/4 cup butter, unsalted

2 cups brown sugar

1/2 cup peanut butter, creamy

2 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla

2 cups flour

1 cup instant oats

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup white chocolate chips

1 cup toffee bits
Ingredients for Caramel Topping:

11 ounce bag of caramels

14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1/4 cup butter
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9″x13″ pan with nonstick oil and line with parchment paper. Using a food processor, cream butter and sugar together. Add peanut butter and blend well. While running, add one egg at a time, thoroughly mixing in each egg. Add vanilla. In a small bowl, combine flour, oats, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add flour mixture to sugar mixture. Fold in chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, and toffee bits. Spread 2/3 of the dough on the bottom of the pan. Meanwhile, unwrap caramels and place in a saucepan with butter and sweetened condensed milk. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until caramels are fully melted. The mixture will be smooth. Slowly pour caramel sauce evenly over dough. Flatten the remaining 1/3 dough like a pancake, cut into squares, roll into balls, and drop randomly over caramel sauce. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle coarse sea salt over all. Cool completely before cutting into bars.