Thursday, October 30, 2008

Trick or treacle toffee?

Here is a recipe for the Brit delight, Treacle Toffee, which could in the US be called molasses toffee, but as I love the word treacle so much then treacle it will remain...the word treacle sounds like the sound treacle makes when you stick a spoon in a jar of it and then pull the spoon out....that's a treacle sound! 

Treacle toffee is well known in Blighty for Bonfire/Guy Fawkes night which is coming up soon on November make it for Hallowe'en (or All Hallow's Eve or Samhain or...) or next Wednesday! I am not a big fan of treacle/molasses generally, it reminds me of licorice which makes my face crinkle, but there's something about treacle toffee that I really like and I can't quite say what it is, probably the addition of butter, what isn't improved by THAT!!! In Britain I think the best treacle toffee is made by Thornton's , where they have huge trays of it with little hammers to break it up ready for your edification. (Thornton's also do a bazzin' Apricot Parfait...dark chocolate with apricot cream and crystallized-apricot-bits centres!! YUMMY!!!)

I have taken my recipe from the book you see above, 'Farmhouse Kitchen II' which is a treasure trove of good old fashioned British stick-to-your-ribs recipes, I can ALWAYS find something in there I want to make but I do have to admit this recipe is not going to be an exact one as either I don't have the candy-making thing down or my candy thermometer is totally out of whack...regardless here we go with an imprecise recipe!!


8oz (in weight) molasses/treacle
8oz brown sugar (I'm sure you can use white if that is all you have!)
2oz butter
2 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar...does anyone know what the vinegar does?...I've used it in recipes for meringues and I don't know what it's purpose is....
I added a 1/2 teaspoon salt for that nice counterpoint and...
1 teaspoon vanilla essence/extract
1.Lump all the ingredients into a heavy bottomed stainless steel saucepan and gradually warm it up to a slow boil, continue boiling gently for about 10 minutes and stir occasionally to prevent sticking and a truly grim burning smell.

2. Raise the heat slowly until a rolling boil is here comes the imprecision...the recipe book said to take the temp to 284F but no way was my black sludge getting that hot, I KNOW it would have burnt so I watched the boiling until I could see that mixture getting thicker, stirring all the while to prevent sticking, and occasionally I dripped some of the liquid on a cool surface, in my case the stove top, and when it cooled quickly and could be picked up cleanly from the surface and squashed between my figures without sticking to them and feeling like some warm candle wax I, yes I, decided to take the sludge off the boil, stirred and cooled it til the bubbles subsided then poured it into a VERY well buttered 9" square metal container, at it's hottest the sludge reached about 225f on MY candy thermometer but don't go by that!!

3. Let the candy/sweets cool 'til the surface was setting and then pulled a sharp knife across the surface to mark it for breaking when the toffee was completely set.

When cold I removed said Treacle Toffee from the container and broke, somewhat unevenly I might add, along the marked lines and then wrapped some in small rectangles of unbleached greaseproof paper ready for the hoards of children who will not show at our house tomorrow evening because we live at the end of a quiet road where no-one ever comes!!! Maybe I'll take some into town tomorrow for the progeny of my deserving friends...assuming, of course, that it doesn't all get eaten by ghouls in the night!!

Happy Hallowe'en and November 5th all!!!

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