butter-toffee-sea-salt-macadamia-nuts

Whaaat. It’s Christmas Eve, already? Holiday season is my favorite time of the year. A time with close friends and family, delicious foods, and good cheer. It’s getting progressively more difficult to meet up with friends as years go by, whether it be because of our jobs or just geographical differences. But something about the holiday season seems to bring everyone back together, and that’s what I love the most.

Though, also during this time, it seems that we happen to be the busiest. For a quick way to spread some holiday love this year, I decided to make some treat bags for my friends. Just wrap these babies up in some festive wrapping, and it makes for a cute, thoughtful gift! And who doesn’t like free snacks?! I sure do.

Making this also gave me an excuse to invest in a candy thermometer. I saw one at Crate & Barrel while I was Christmas shopping with my name on it. Just had to. I’ve heard all the scary stories about working with hot sugar and candy, and I always thought, “No way am I going to mess with that.” But as a new year is dawning, I think it’s about time I faced my fears. And for those of you in the same boat, it’s really not as scary as it seems. It was actually one of my most exciting experiences in the kitchen. Just be cautious!

Raw macadamia nuts are a little pricey, so try looking for a local market that sells them in bulk. Don’t worry if you’re unable to find it though, you can substitute this recipe with any kind of nut you want, really.

These are the bomb. And so addicting.

Ingredients
1 1/2 cup white sugar
5 tbsp butter
2/3 cup water
2 cups raw macadamia nuts
1 tsp sea salt, flaky

1. Preheat your oven to 350°. Spread your macadamia nuts in a single layer over a baking sheet, and quickly toast them for 5 minutes. Keep an eye on the nuts as they toast – the fat content in macadamia nuts is pretty high, which also means that they are more prone to burning.

butter-toffee-sea-salt-macadamia-nuts

2. In your saucepan or skillet, heat up the sugar, butter, and water over medium-high heat. Here’s where the candy thermometer comes in. You want to heat the toffee until it reaches 235°, or soft-ball stage. It should be pale and have a thick bubbly consistency, almost like the foam on top of a Guinness! (Note: In candy-making, there are different stages your syrup reaches. The soft-ball stage, for example, just means that it’s reached a point where if you drop the sugar syrup in water, it’ll form itself into a soft, flexible ball.)

3. Once your butter toffee reads 235° on your candy thermometer, you need to start working quickly. (The candy temperature starts to accelerate at a faster rate from here on out.) Add your now-toasted nuts into the toffee, and stir to evenly coat.

butter-toffee-sea-salt-macadamia-nuts

4. Continue to stir the nuts, in a gentle folding motion, until the temperature has reached hard-crack stage, or 300°. You’ll see it go from bubbly to powdery, to a deep amber brown, and finally sticky and caramel-like. Keeping an eye on the temperature is really important so that your macadamia nuts will be able to glaze and harden properly.

butter-toffee-sea-salt-macadamia-nuts

5. Prepare 2 greased baking sheets or silicone mats on the side. Dump the nuts onto one of the sheets and quickly spread it out into a flat layer. Working very quickly, use tongs to pluck out each nut and place on the second sheet one-by-one, making sure none of them are touching. (Here’s the greatest part: The leftover toffee on the original mat you dumped the nuts on? Let it cool completely and break it up for an awesome butter toffee brittle. And I mean awesome.)

butter-toffee-sea-salt-macadamia-nuts

butter-toffee-sea-salt-macadamia-nuts

6. Sprinkle the salt evenly over the nuts, and gently roll them around to get them as evenly coated as possible.

7. Set aside to cool completely before eating (about 30 minutes).

If you want to gift these, store ‘em in a cute container of some sort and throw on a homemade tag, and that’s it! Doesn’t have to be too pretty, after all the real star are the nuts, right?

butter-toffee-sea-salt-macadamia-nuts

butter-toffee-sea-salt-macadamia-nuts

The butter toffee brittle I was talking about:

brittle

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