Thursday, July 31, 2008

Honey Toffee Pennies

Nowadays, you'd be hard-pressed to find a kids' cookbook that even considered encouraging the kids to boil sugar. Boiling sugar = danger, danger, danger. Plus, candy making is usually viewed as a highly-precise, needs-special-equipment sort of affair, ill-suited to the novice.

The Pooh Cook Book is either more ambitious or more foolhardy than you might expect.
Honey Toffee Pennies

1/4 cup (2 ounces) butter, sliced
3/4 cup honey
1 1/4 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
1 heavy-bottomed saucepan
1 after-dinner coffee spoon
1 quarter-teaspoon measuring spoon

Choose one of these flavorings for each batch of toffee:
6-7 drops extract of mint
1/4 teasppon of one of these:
powdered cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Put the butter, honey, sugar, and vinegar in the heavy-bottomed saucepan. The saucepan must have a heavy bottom or the toffee will burn.

Keep over low heat until mixture has melted.

Stir and increase the heat.

Boil without stirring at high heat for
   10 minutes for chewy toffee;
   15 minutes for hard toffee;
   20 minutes for brittle toffee;

Add the flavoring when you remove the saucepan from the head, while candy is still boiling.

Honey toffee tastes good at every stage, so it doesn't matter whether you boil it for ten minutes or more. What matters is not to stir it.

Drip the honey toffee from a small spoon into penny shapes onto a dish or a piece of plastic or Pliofilm or wax paper. If you are very clever, you will be able to drip it from the spoon in all kinds of shapes -- clouds and snails and beetles and birds as well as Pooh shapes.

Or you can drip it from the spoon in small blobs and wait until it cools, so that you can shape it with your hands into balls or little squares or rectangles.

A good trick to keep the toffee liquid is to put the saucepan with the toffee in a larger pan of hot water. You won't have to work quite so fast if you keep the toffee hot and liquid.

The 15- and 20- minute toffee gets harder the longer it sits. When hard enough, wrap in plastic or wax paper and store in an airtight container.

And the only reason for making honey is so as I can eat it."
-- Winnie-the-Pooh
Pliofilm, it seems, was a brand name for a competitor of Cellophane. It played a role in the Allied invasion of Normandy. And you could use it for candy making! Except for the pesky "it contributed to leukemia" part... Let's stick with wax paper, shall we?

I've only tried to make hard candy once; I was sure that homemade lollipops would be delightful. They weren't... they tasted of the butter that I put on the molds, and not at all like sweet little nuggets of fruity delight.

Toffee, though, is supposed to be buttery. So this might well be worth a shot, especially because it seems to be completely unfussy. No thermometer. No firm amount of time.

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