Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Toffee Nut Spires - stunning edible decorations

These toffee spires, really aren't as daunting as they see - yet take your dessert presentation to the level of a fine dining restaurant. Recipe is preprinted with permission from our friends at Chelsea.

150g Chelsea white sugar
Whole nuts of choice e.g. almonds, hazelnuts
Piece of polystyrene
Sugar (candy) thermometer

Preparation: Before you start the toffee prepare the nuts by inserting a toothpick into the base of each individual nut. This is to enable you to position the toffee covered nuts in the polystyrene to set. Suspend the polystyrene from the edge of your workbench by adding a heavy weight to one end. We used a pack of sugar. Put a rubbish bin or paper under the polystyrene to catch toffee drips.

Beginners tip: If you are not an expert at toffee making it may also pay to have a metal bowl of cold water to one side of the hob when you start making your toffee. Toffee has a habit of creeping slowly upwards in temperature and then once it hits soft crack stage heating rapidly. You can slow this down by dunking your hot saucepan in the bowl of cold water.
To make Toffee: Heat sugar in a heavy based pan over a high heat until it dissolves and turns a golden caramel colour, stir occasionally with a wooden spoon to ensure the sugar doesn’t catch and burn. Add your sugar thermometer and cook the sugar until it reaches 155°C (this is known as the hard crack stage). Remove the sugar from the heat as the temperature will continue to rise quickly and the toffee could burn. If the temperature continues to rise dunk the pan in the bowl of cold water to halt the temperature increase.
Now you have to work quickly. Dip each nut into the toffee mixture then suspend by inserting the toothpick on the underside of the polystyrene. This allows a thread of toffee to form at the end of the nut and creates the ‘spire’ effect.
If the toffee cools and becomes too thick to work with just place it back on the heat and bring back to temperature.
When toffee has set cut the thread at the desired length with kitchen scissors.
Note: toffee loves to absorb humidity and will start to bead with moisture relatively quickly. It is best to make these nuts and use them to garnish your baking on the same day.
Don’t despair if your toffee misbehaves! It is a bit more complicated than it seems. If it burns just scrape out the mixture quickly and fill the pan with boiling water to dissolve the hard toffee.

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