Shabbat of Sanctity Dirshu’s 20th Anniversary International Convention

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This Month: A Sweet and Salty Treat

“When I’m making a sweet menu for a simcha, school event, or melave malkah, I always include a toffee or brittle. It’s quick, easy, popular, and I can top it with whatever ingredients are already in my pantry. It’s the perfect treat for mishloach manot.” -Victoria

Simple Sweet and Salty Toffee

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, margarine, or Earth Balance buttery sticks (butter is best)

1 ½ cups sugar

10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Craisins, for sprinkling

sunflower seeds, hulled, roasted, and salted, for sprinkling

coarse sea salt, for sprinkling

1.       Melt butter with sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Only stir until the butter is melted, then leave the pot alone and do not stir. Cook until mixture is a deep golden color (if you are using a candy thermometer, it should register 300ºF).

2.      Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a baking sheet with foil and place in oven to warm.

3.      Just before toffee mixture is ready, remove baking sheet from oven. Pour toffee over baking sheet, moving baking sheet around so it covers the entire surface.

4.      Let toffee set for a few moments, then sprinkle evenly with baking chocolate. Let the baking chocolate sit for a few minutes (it will melt from the heat of the toffee), and then, using an offset spatula, spread chocolate over the entire surface. Sprinkle with Craisins, sunflower seeds, and sea salt. Keep in the refrigerator or freezer until set.

5.      To serve, break into shards. Can be served on its own or used as a garnish alongside another dessert.

In V’s Kitchen

*What’s the difference between toffee and brittle? Toffee begins with a butter and sugar mixture. Brittle begins with just sugar. While I love both, I find that it’s easier to mess up brittle because sugar can burn quickly when it’s not combined with any other ingredients (watch carefully!). See below for an easier brittle technique that uses corn syrup and the oven.

*The quality of chocolate is paramount to the quality of the finished product. As far as Jewish brands of baking chocolate, I only recommend either the 10.5 ounce Alprose Swiss Baking Chocolate and the 64% bars of Shufra baking chocolate. The best ever chocolate, though, for use in any recipe is Scharffen Berger. Use either the bittersweet or semisweet bars (blue or yellow packaging). If you’re a chocolate fan in general, try the 3-ounce bars just for munching. I love the 52% Mocha Dark Chocolate bar.

*You can use any nut you have in your pantry in place of the sunflower seeds, however, I prefer a salted nut for that deeper contrast of salty and sweet. Want to add a nut into the toffee before it goes onto the baking sheet? Make sure those nuts are freshly roasted and hot. Cold nuts will make your mixture seize, resulting in one large clump of candy instead of a thin layer. Stir your hot nuts into the toffee or brittle mixture before spreading onto a warm baking sheet.

*Don’t get caught with cold baking sheets! I like my toffee to be super thin, and it’s the warm baking sheet that will help me achieve that. Toffee hardens as it cools, so having a warm baking sheet will delay the hardening, and enable the mixture to spread across the whole baking sheet in a thinner layer.

Caramelized Peanuts

Enjoy this easier version of brittle either as a candy or as a garnish. You can substitute with the nut of your choice.

1/3 cup (100 g) corn syrup

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons sugar

2 cups (500 g) peanuts

       1.            Preheat oven to 325ºF.

       1.            In large sauté pan, warm corn syrup, salt, and sugar. Mix until dissolved.

      2.            Add nuts and stir to coat completely. Spread on a baking sheet and bake until toasted and brown, 12 to 14 minutes.

Yield: 2 to 2 ½ cups peanuts