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Easy toffees make divine Valentine's Day gifts

Thursday, February 14, 2002

While we were testing a soup recipe for this week's Kitchen Mailbox column we realized that the food section would fall on Valentine's Day. How could we let this day pass without featuring a recipe for candy? That's why the soup is on the back burner, so to speak, and homemade toffee candy is our feature today.


Microwave Toffee was sent to us by Nina Bossart of Colorado Springs, Colo. "My husband is in the Air Force; we've lived all over the United States in the past 17 years. I learned this recipe from the Officer's Wives Club at Vandenberg AFB, California, in 1986. This toffee is easy -- just make sure that the butter is hard (I had a batch burn when the butter was softened prior to use), and watch carefully for that special rich golden color while cooking!"

We followed the directions, used cold butter, watched carefully and had our cookie sheet (11 by 17 inch) prepared. Everything was going smoothly until we poured the toffee onto the cookie sheet -- there wasn't enough toffee mixture to cover the entire cookie sheet! After another e-mail to Nina, we were told that the toffee is not supposed to cover the entire sheet. But more to the point, the toffee did turn out great, and it was easy and scrumptious (especially with the added chocolate). But remember -- the toffee mixture will not cover the entire cookie sheet.

Dorothy Chiado of Wilkins sent us another easy candy recipe, Almond Butter Crunch: "I think Beverly Moodt of Bethel Park will enjoy this toffee-like brittle. It is delicious, and when I give the candy as a gift, I always receive compliments." Dorothy deserves the compliment -- the candy is delicious.

Microwave Toffee

1 stick butter (no substitutions and make sure it's straight out of the refrigerator)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup chopped almonds plus 1/4 cup finely chopped almonds
1 cup milk chocolate chips, about

Sprinkle the 1/2 cup chopped almonds on a greased cookie sheet; set aside.

Combine sugar, butter and water in a large microwave bowl. Microwave on High for 8 to 9 minutes (do not mix) until light brown (the color of a Heath Bar). If it needs more time, do it in 20- to 30-second increments, and watch carefully as it can burn quickly.

Pour the mixture on the prepared cookie sheet (do not scrape the bowl, it contains sugar crystals that can mar the consistency of the toffee). Immediately sprinkle the chocolate chips over the toffee. Let the chips melt, then spread smooth. Top with the finely chopped almonds.

Pop in the freezer for a few minutes to harden the toffee. Break into bite-sized pieces.

Almond Butter Crunch

1 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), no substitutions
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup

Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. In a 10-inch saucepan, combine almonds, butter, sugar and corn syrup.

Bring to a boil and continue cooking for 6 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour onto prepared cookie sheet. Cool 15 minutes. Remove butter that has settled on the toffee with a paper towel. Remove foil from cookie sheet. Break candy into pieces. Store in an airtight container.


This letter came in the PG mailbox to food editor Suzanne Martinson:

"It was interesting to read in your Sunday list of good things to have in one's kitchen wax paper. When I ran out of it a couple of months back, I decided, when I finally located some at the supermarket -- buried under 10,000 different kinds of plastic bags and wraps -- that I'd better stock up, because it appears that wax paper is going the way of the Dodo bird.

"I bought four boxes, one for my mother -- she's 91 -- and three for myself -- I'm 60. I figure we both have enough now to last us the rest of our lives!

"My uses: Microwaving corn on the cob; rolling out pie dough; lining casseroles for baking corn bread; putting a cut-out circle under the edges of cakes to catch runoff glaze.

"Don't use it that often, but when I need it, I need it!

Pat Jennings

Rosalyn Farms

A thank you from Rose Harpur of Point Breeze:

"I would like to thank you and the readers who responded to my request for recipes and books on gluten-free and sugar-free foods."


Dianna Wilson of Oneonta, Ala., had a recipe for crown of pork roast with eggplant stuffing. Dianna lost the recipe and has been looking but to no avail. Can anyone help?

A request from Harry Fisher of Ross: "I think the best hamburgers served around here were those from White Tower, Rodgers, and the Brass Rail restaurants. The secret ingredient was their seasoning salt. Any chance of finding a recipe for this salt or where this salt can be purchased?"

If you want to answer a recipe request from a reader or are looking for a recipe yourself, please write to Kitchen Mailbox, c/o Arlene Burnett, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222, or e-mail to aburnett@post-gazette.com Please include a name, neighborhood and a daytime phone number on all correspondence.

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