Dark Chocolate and Walnut Toffee
If you're feeling a bit lethargic from all the holiday decorating, shopping, cooking, baking, card-writing, wrapping, and ribbon-curling screaming, then I have just the recipe! You don't even need the oven for this, just a willingness to patiently watch butter and sugar transform into luxurious, molten toffee.
I don't know about you, but I find butter transformation kind of therapeutic.
If you prefer pecans to walnuts, you can easily make the swap. I love the rich, deep, almost bitter taste of walnuts. And because the toffee is so sweet, you almost need something level-headed enough to balance the flavour scales. Also, if you want to use milk chocolate instead of dark, please go ahead. Some people thought that this was a bit too rich...just know that the recipe is flexible enough to accommodate just about anyone's preferences.
Someone suggested eliminating the nuts and using white chocolate. I smiled. (my New Year's Eve guest list just got smaller.)
I'm kidding, of course. ;-)
Dark Chocolate & Walnut Toffee
2 cups cups chopped walnuts
1 cup sugar
1 cup (that's 2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1 Tablespoon corn syrup (light or dark)
1/2 tsp. salt (I like salty sweets, you can reduce this to 1/4 tsp. if you prefer.)
1/4 cup water
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Spread the walnuts out in an even layer on baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, stirring them around a bit half-way through.
Line a 9x13-inch pan with foil, leave a slight overhang along the edges. Lightly grease the foil. Scatter about 1 1/2 cups of the toasted nuts into an even layer on the bottom of the pan. (Set aside the remaining 1/2 cup.)
Prepare the toffee: In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the butter, corn syrup, salt, and 1/4 cup of water. Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Once it reaches a boil, stop stirring. Cook until the toffee is golden brown, and reaches 290-310 F. on a candy thermometer (this will take about 15-20 minutes). While the toffee is cooking, swirl it around a few times using the handle of the pan, this will prevent it from burning.
Carefully pour the toffee over the walnut-lined baking sheet (be very careful, you do not want the hot toffee to touch your skin). Use the sides of the pan to tilt it back and forth until the toffee has coated most of the bottom. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the hot toffee and give them about 30 seconds to soften. Spread the melted chocolate over the toffee. Sprinkle the remaining walnuts over the chocolate.
Place the pan in the refrigerator and chill for at least one hour.
Remove from the fridge and, using the foil overhang, lift the toffee out of the pan.
Gently break the toffee into jagged bits. It's almost impossible to cut even slices, so just let your artistic side take over. :)