What would Halloween Week be without a recipe for candy? Salty/sweet treats seem to be everywhere these days---from the unexceptional Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate at Starbucks to the out-of-this-world Vosges Peanut Butter Bonbons. This recipe is the homespun answer to the salty/sweet trend. It features salted cashews ensconced in a crunchy foundation of sweet, buttery toffee. I don't always eat my own baking---it's safer to send it to the office with the huz!---but I couldn't keep my sticky fingers away from this stuff!
You'll need a candy thermometer for this recipe (I had to go out and buy one, and it was SO worth it!) but other than that it's totally brainless to make. It's also fun to see how simple ingredients like butter and sugar come together to make something totally different---a real lesson in the magic of chemistry. I think making this with kids (under adequate adult supervision of course) would be so educational for them.
Salty 'n' Sweet Cashew Toffee
Recipe courtesy of Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O'Connor
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons water
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 heaping cups salted cashew halves
In a large saucepan, combine butter, water, sugar and lemon juice. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until butter is melted. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring all the while. Once the mixture starts to boil, stop stirring and cook until it reaches the hard-crack stage (about 300 degrees) on your candy thermometer.
Immediately remove pan from heat and stir in baking soda, salt and cashews. It will fizz when you add the baking soda; this aerates the candy, making it lighter and easier to bite into. Pour the candy mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper an let it cool completely. When cool, it will be hard and shattery; break it into generously sized pieces and serve. This toffee would be terrific packaged up as party favours or even as gifts for the winter holiday season! If you can bear to give it away, that is :)
Oh, and just in case you needed it, here's proof that my love of Halloween has been many years in the making!