Enter the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap of 2014. Cue a Ruthie searching for ideas for sweets to bake that would be just selfish enough that I’d enjoy eating the extra batch, but not selfish enough that I’d refrain from mailing my goods to my matches. Enter Center Stage: chocolate-covered toffee.
Yes, I thought I’d be the rebel who made and mailed candy, and not cookies. Yes, I thought I’d share my passion for this sweet with the food blogging community and the world by mailing it to three lucky participants in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. It’s a sweet that takes me back to my home in rural Minnesota, to a particularly sticky summer day when I was 12 or 13 years old. My Auntie Charie was in town visiting, and along with her was a usual string of goodies and surprises. One such goodie lay chilling in the refrigerator– a candy of sorts sealed in a plastic baggie. Anticipation wafted from its very presence. It was a Heath bar–maybe the first I’d seen but definitely the first bite of toffee I had when Auntie Charie finally let the kids indulge in this mystery of hers. One cold bite on that hot summer day and I’ve been hooked ever since.
Hooked? Nay–obsessed. Last year at work there was a particular batch of toffee that had reached its expiration date. It did not make it into the garbage, but rather, it became my breakfast the next two weeks.
I’ve never made toffee, but I found a recipe that looked simple (no thermometers required) and used a silicone mat. Perfect! My brother gave me one for my last birthday. It turns out, though, like any candy, toffee is a rather difficult feat to achieve without a thermometer. I made a melted buttery, chocolatey mess that flaked right off my silicone mat. It was not, and would never be toffee.
I fudged up. Put it all back into a pot. And made some actual, improv fudge. It was delicious. And here’s the recipe, minus the unnecessary fudging-up steps. May your holidays be merry and your baking adventures ever-successful.
Pecan Fudge Cups
Makes ~a dozen small cups
1 cup unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup pecans, chopped
In a medium saucepan, combine butter, sugar vanilla and salt over medium heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until butter has melted and mixture is almond brown in color, about 7-10 minutes. Add the chocolate chips to the hot caramel mixture and stir until chocolate has fully melted, 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle tops with pecan pieces. Pour or spoon mixture into small baking cups and chill on a level surface in refrigerator until set, about 2 hours. Enjoy!