English Toffee and the 2nd Annual Food Bloggers Great American Bake Sale

Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was a single mom. At that point in time, I had two children (I now have 4). Life. Was. Hard. It was the late 80’s, beginning 90’s, and while the nation spoke of abundant living, I was trying to figure out how to stretch a $6 an hour full time wage into the next month. Rent was $450 and daycare was $100 per week. Naturally, there were other bills. Yet surprisingly, my income “exceeded the maximum allowable income for assistance.”

Yeah. That’s what I said.

Life has changed. I have a pantry that seems to go on forever, with the ability and passion to create a meal out of ingredients, others seem confused by. I have a dislike of fast food, and an even greater, intense, dislike of food waste. I love the creation of gourmet tastes that come from simple, wholesome, homemade ingredients. My passion is sharing food from my kitchen with others, who don’t have that ability.

The Share Our Strength Organization is dedicated to children who struggle to eat day to day. They provide reliable access to healthy food for families across the nation, in your neighborhoods, via support from everyday people like you and me. They teach low income families how to select and prepare nutritious, low cost, ingredients in ways that will encourage healthy eating habits and stretch their food dollars.

One of the ways I am able to help, is by forming a team of bakers and hosting a Food Bloggers Great American Bake Sale. Food Bloggers are an amazing community of passionate people, who always seem to use their talents in the kitchen, banding together to help those in need. My team is partnering with Taste of The Nation Scottsdale 2011, an extraordinary evening of delicious dining to also benefit Share Our Strength’s efforts to end childhood hunger, providing baked goods and encouraging guests to visit our bake sale the following day.

English Toffee has always been a favorite, indulgent treat of mine. It reminds me of abundant, happy, and hopeful times. It is a recipe I have made for over 20 years, given to me by a dental lab known as “Sweet Tooth”, back when I was in dentistry. This will be only one of the many treats I contribute to my bake sale… will you please, save the date- Saturday, May 14th, and find one in your neighborhood? Let us all end childhood hunger in America by 2015.

English Toffee

2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed
1 c sugar
1/2 tsp good vanilla- I use my own, homemade Bourbon Vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
6 oz dark chocolate chips
1/2 c chopped walnuts

Place a large sheet of aluminum foil onto a large cookie sheet. Lightly coat foil with butter. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan add butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Over medium heat, bring mixture to a bubbly boil, stirring VIGOROUSLY with a flat bottom whisk. Constantly stir until a hard crack stage is reached, approximately 295F on a candy thermometer (Sugar can burn easily and rapidly, so constant stirring is essential!). Mixture will start out a pale yellow, and will be at the right temperature once a deep, golden caramel color is achieved.

Immediately pour mixture out onto prepared cookie sheet. Carefully tip pan to spread the mixture, keeping about an 1/8″ to 1/4″ thickness. Let mixture set about 10 minutes, then evenly sprinkle dark chocolate chips over the top. Be careful as mixture is still very hot.

Wait about 10 minutes, and then with an offset spatula, evenly spread chocolate over the top of the toffee. Immediately, evenly sprinkle the chopped walnuts over the chocolate.

Let Toffee set for about an hour, or until chocolate has hardened (or if you are desperate, such as myself, stick in the freezer for 5 minutes for an immediate craving). Once hardened, break toffee in to bite sized pieces. What are you waiting for..? Eat it already!!

Cooked up by Janet

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