Cookie Swap Anyone?

A friend of mine invited me to my 1st holiday cookie swap this weekend. Although I still have a tummy ache from all the sugar, this clueless baker learned a few things and had a great time playing with my food! As I sit here watching Paula Dean’s cookie swap party, I can tell you that cookies don’t come out looking that perfect – I wish mine did. Thank goodness there were other people baking at the party besides me. On that note, let me give you my favorite recipe of the day: English Toffee

English Toffee

Ingredients/equipment

  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 6 ounces chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • saucepan, cookie sheet
  • parchment paper (optional)

Now what?

  1. Cook the first 4 ingredients in a saucepan over Medium-low heat to hard crack stage using a candy or sugar thermometer (Tip: it should be stringy and about the color of a brown paper bag.)*
  2. Stir in pecans
  3. Pour batch onto parchment paper (cookie sheet) and sprinkle with chocolate chips. When the chips begin to melt, spread over entire pan with the back of a cold spoon. The chocolate should smoothly layer the batch.
  4. Sprinkle with almonds
  5. Allow to cool at room temperature for 20 minutes, then allow for complete setting in the fridge for at least 30 additional minutes or until hard. Finally, break into pieces by hand or knife

I can see how these cookie swaps have become so popular, giving people a chance to escape from holiday stress while gabbing about sweet nothings. Speaking of sweet, one thing that shocked me (literally) was the vast amounts of sugar, cream, butter, shortening and more sugar involved in making cookies. This is what I get for being clueless in the kitchen – not knowing that “vast amounts of sugar” are usually involved in making cookies!

One last thing, I had no idea what a candy/sugar thermometer was either, so I looked it up. Basically, you should think about getting one of these if you want to make toffee, peanut brittle, peppermint bark or any other sweet hard candy. These candy thermometers are similar to meat thermometers but they can read higher temperatures (including oil for frying). Ok, I have to work out now after talking about all this!

Happy Holidays!!!

P.S. Here’s the cookie that I made. It looked ok, but tasted…um…well, just stick with the toffee recipe and you’ll be ok.

img_00751

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