Friday, December 17, 2010

Mom's Butter Crunch

As far back as I can remember we gave our elementary school teachers (grades K-6) gifts at Christmastime. Since there were so many of them in any given year, we always helped in some way to get the gift together.  The youngest kids either measured chocolate or ground the nuts.  We didn't have food processors so we had to grind our nuts in a gadget that was a jar fitted with a grinder.  The top was loaded and the nuts ground as you turned a crank.  It took hours but the nuts were a wonderful consistent size perfect for topping butter crunch.  We used to watch tv and grind the nuts.  I remember my hand used to get tired from turning the crank.
There are many variations of butter crunch today.  I favor the recipe I grew up with.  It's tender and has just the right ratio of candy to chocolate to nuts.  If you are going to make this, I highly recommend you purchase a good candy thermometer.  Interestingly, I have had trouble making it everywhere I have lived since leaving NY.  Relative humidity is likely the biggest culprit, but for some reason, this year, it turned out perfectly!   This recipe dates back to at least the 1960's.
Butter a sheet pan lightly and set it on a trivet or hot pad of some sort.  Add ice water to a measuring cup for testing and have it near by.
In a non-reactive saucepan with a thick bottom (such as All-Chad) add 1 Stick of Butter, 1 Cup Sugar, 1/4 Cup Water and 1/2 tsp Salt.  Attach the candy thermometer to the pan using the clip.  Heat mixture over medium heat, bubbling, until it reaches 290 degrees F (Soft Crack).  You need to stir this just about the entire time.  Use a wooden spoon instead of a metal spoon because it won't transfer heat to your hand.  As it nears 280 begin testing small amounts by dripping the candy into the water.  Once it cools, about 15 seconds, eat the drops testing it until it is tender and crunchy. The last 10 degrees go quickly so continue to do this until it is ready.  The toffee should be a golden brown color.  Remove the candy thermometer from the pan and carefully pour out onto the sheet pan and tilt the pan every which way to get a shape that is a consistent thickness.

Caution, candy making is dangerous as it is VERY HOT.  Warn your family not to touch the sheet pan once you've poured the candy.  Let cool entirely.  Heat 12 oz Semi Sweet Chocolate (such as Nestle's Semi Sweet Chips) in a saucepan over very low heat just until melted.  Spread 1/2 of it onto the toffee.  Top with 1/2 Cup Ground Walnuts and push slightly into the chocolate.  Once cool, turn over the toffee using an off set spatula and repeat using the remaining chocolate and another 1/2 Cup Ground Walnuts.  Once cooled completely, break the toffee by hand.  Store in an airtight container.  Thanks Mom!

1 comment:

Diane L said...

Hey...isn't that 290 for the temp? Looks good.