Today I have the pleasure of hosting Anna, one half of the blog Hidden Ponies and another incredibly creative, talented participant in First On The First with Carrie and I. Anna is a wife and mother, interior designer, blogger, and as if she didn’t have enough on her plate, she’s pursuing her BA as well! Phew! I’m tired just thinking about it all. She’s also a self-proclaimed grammar snob which I love! I try to be grammatically correct at all times, although I do screw up every now and then.
On to the recipe! Anna has for you today Chocolate Dipped Sponge Toffee. It sounds amazing, the pictures make my mouth water and I’ve never made it before. She hadn’t either until this post. I’m looking forward to giving this “first” a try in the very near future and I’m sure you will love it also. Take it away, Anna! Thanks so much for posting here today. I’m so glad to have you as a guest, as well as a member of our First On The First group.
CHOCOLATE COATED SPONGE TOFFEE
I’m so excited to be guest posting on Kate’s delicious blog today, not only because I totally admire her cooking, her photography, and her general superwoman-ness, but also because “babbles” is part of her blog name! Ask my dad, or many other people, possibly even my husband. I babble.
I blog with my sister Chelsea over at http://hiddenponies.com, and we focus on fresh, family-friendly meals and treats that anyone can (and should!) make. The blog stemmed largely from necessity – we needed to learn to cook for our families in tiny, uninspiring kitchens, with absolutely no budget for eating out. We decided to face the battle together, learn to meal plan, and share our successes through our blog. We quickly got hooked on cooking from scratch and trying new things, and Chelsea’s gluten free diet also meant she had to stretch herself and experiment.
I met Kate through her First on the First initiative that I happened upon on her blog one day and am so thrilled to be a part of. Since Kate inspires me every month to try something new, I figured for my guest post I should also try something totally new and out of my comfort zone.
And I totally failed.
My first attempt at this recipe was a major flop. When that happens, I usually scrap a recipe and move on, unlikely to think of it again. Call me a quitter, but my attitude toward recipes is the same as it is towards people: Fail me once, shame on you. Fail me twice, shame on ME. Why did I try again, knowing this was a likely possibility? Why was I a sucker for punishment?
But this time I had gone ahead and blurted to Kate that I was making sponge toffee. I could hardly show up with a bran muffin.
And really, I knew the problems weren’t with the recipe. I knew I hadn’t let my sugar get hot enough, and I’d run out of corn syrup mid-pour and substituted pure cane syrup. So now I know: when trying candy for the first time, just follow a recipe, have patience, and odds are you won’t have the failure I did. And if you do, I promise this sponge toffee coated in dark chocolate is totally worth a second attempt.
Does anyone out there love Crunchie bars as much as I do? Anyone?
If you don’t, or have never had one, I highly recommend giving them a chance! I used to work in a 50’s- themed diner and aside from our typical diner fare, we also sold bricks of sponge toffee, that delicious yellow, hard, airy sugar that’s inside Crunchie bars, and I loved buying it and letting it melt slowly in my mouth. It’s a wonder I don’t have any cavities…but aside from the fact (or maybe because of the fact) that it’s essentially just sugar and corn syrup and more sugar, these are totally delicious. Although I’ll warn you from experience that if you eat too many in a short period of time (like 12 in half an hour), you’ll get a weird tingly tongue and mildly sick stomach from all that sugar.
A couple of tips before you start:
- It will take a while for your sugar to come up to the right temperature. I rushed it the first time and my baking soda made a volcano when it hit the too-cool sugar, my sponge toffee really was like a sponge, and scads of syrupy sugar exited my springform pan through every available crack without a care, coating about 4 feet of counter space.
- Make sure you thoroughly incorporate the baking soda when whisking, or some pieces will end up tasting like baking soda. The candy starts to harden fairly quickly – use a good whisk, and enlist someone with muscles if, like me, you’re a wimp. My hubby was happy to flex his pipes in my little candy science experiment.
Enjoy, and Kate, thank you so much for having me and for the inspiration you are in my kitchen!!
HOMEMADE CHOCOLATE DIPPED SPONGE TOFFEE
- ¼ tsp unflavored gelatin
- 1 Tbsp cold water
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1 cup water
- 2 Tbsp baking soda
- 1 lb dark chocolate (for dipping)
Mix gelatin and cold water in a small bowl and set aside.
Combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a 3-qt saucepan and bring to a boil. When it comes to a boil, insert candy thermometer and let bubble WITHOUT stirring until the syrup reaches 310 degrees F. (This took mine about 35 minutes – don’t turn the heat too high to try to speed it up or you will scorch the sugar).
When it reaches 310F, remove syrup from heat and let it sit for 5 minutes. Then, thoroughly whisk in gelatin. Whisk the baking soda in next, stirring with great enthusiasm to make sure it gets evenly dispersed. Return the mixture to medium heat for 30 seconds, whisking continuously. Remove from heat and immediately pour into 9” springform pan. Don’t over-level or worry about perfection – fiddling may cause it to collapse, so just pour it in as evenly as you can and leave it.
Let sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours, or overnight. Remove the springform pan and break the toffee into pieces with a sharp knife.
Melt the chocolate in a tall mug or small bowl, then dip pieces to coat. Transfer coated pieces to waxed paper-lined baking sheets and refrigerate to set chocolate. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Mine lasted close to two weeks before they were gone, and were still as good as fresh.
*Recipe barely adapted from Step by Step Gourmet.