Sunday, December 17, 2023

English Toffee Chunks

English Toffee Chunks

There already exists on this site a fine recipe for English toffee. Lately, though, I've had this itch to make a more bite-sized (maybe two-bite sized) version of this holiday favorite. I wanted to make a more manageable size, and I also wanted to use a method of coating the pieces in chocolate that was not as labor-intensive as my usual.

I actually figure out a better way to coat larger pieces, but smaller pieces are cuter and easier to eat. So I cut this batch up into various small sizes, and the results are what you see here: delicious, buttery sweet, crunchy, nutty, flavorful deliciousness. I have to say, I'm pretty proud of myself. 😁

Who knows what this year will bring, but I do plan to make these again for next Christmas, and maybe then I will remember to document the process to update this post. Until then, email me with questions if you have any.


English Toffee Chunks

  • 1 cup coarsely chopped roasted almonds 
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped roasted almonds
  • 3/4 cup packed C & H Light Brown Sugar 
  • 3/4 cups  C & H white sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 9 to 12 ounces chocolate*, melted and tempered (I like to use Dove Milk Chocolate)
1. Line a rectangular Pyrex/glass pan (9x13) with parchment paper (Do not use a metal pan for this). Spread coarse nuts in bottom of pan. Set aside.
2. In a heavy saucepan heat butter and sugar to boiling over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil over medium heat until it reaches 300° on a candy thermometer. At that point immediately pour and spread over the nuts. Allow to cool 5-6 minutes.
3. While the toffee is still relatively soft, but not liquid, lift the toffee out of the pan using the parchment paper and place on a cutting surface. (For me, my warm glass top stove worked well because it kept the toffee a little warm, preventing it from solidifying before I'd cut it up.)
4. Using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter, cut the toffee into small pieces, like 1 cm x 2 cm. Toffee may not completely separate, but that's okay; you can break it apart later. When toffee is cool and firm, gently break the pieces apart and move to a pan lined with paper towels to absorb any excess butter.
5. Set aside 1 to 2 ounces of the chocolate, and then over a double boiler set on medium heat (don't boil the water), melt chocolate until it is 2/3 melted. Remove from heat and stir until completely melted. Add a little of the reserved chocolate and stir until melted. Repeat until all chocolate is gone or the additional chocolate does not melt within about 3-4 minutes of stirring. 
Place finely chopped nuts in a dish or pan that has some depth and will allow you to toss the toffee nuggets easily.  (I used a deeper Pyrex pan that I think is 7" x 11".) Line a half-sheet pan with parchment and set aside.
7. (This is where it could get tricky.) Place 3/4 of the  the toffee chunks into the chocolate and stir to coat. Then using a fork, or small tongs, move 7 - 8 pieces of the coated toffee into the almond pan. Shake to start coating and then toss the toffee with your hands to finish coating completely with the chopped nuts. Remove coated pieces to the prepared parchment-lined pan to cool and firm up. Repeat with remaining toffee chunks. If the chocolate starts to get too firm (and it will), place bowl over the double boiler again and stir to loosen up the chocolate--usually only 30-60 seconds. Then continue with the coating process. 
8. If you have extra chocolate in the bowl, add any other naked toffee that remains, and follow the coating instructions in step 7. 
9. Allow all pieces to cool and firm up, then place in an airtight container. Divide up into smaller airtight containers and share with family and friends, if desired.

Makes a little over 2 pounds of toffee chunks

*I think 9 ounces will suffice, but to tell the truth, I didn't measure when I did this, and I probably won't make these again until next year. You may end up with some uncoated pieces of toffee. There are worse things to end up with, though, right?

Dove Chocolate unwrapped and ready to be melted and tempered.

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Oatmeal GORP Cookies

For those who don't know yet, GORP is short for "good ol' raisins and peanuts," and I chose to include that in the name of these cookies because I didn't know what else to call a monster cookie that I transformed into something different enough to post about. 

This is a nice gluten-free cookie in which you can taste a LOT of peanut butter. This makes me happy. The mild flavor of the milk chocolate is what allows this to be, and the raisins just felt right, and they do, in fact, taste great. Unless you're not a fan of raisins, in which case you can leave out the raisins. 

All that to say, if you want a nice, chewy oatmeal cookie that is super peanut buttery with a splash of chocolate and fruitiness, give these a try. I really think you'll enjoy them.

Oatmeal GORP Cookies


  • 4 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chunky peanut butter (I used Skippy Natural Super Chunk)
  • 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter (I used Skippy Natural Creamy)
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened 
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 9.3 ounces milk chocolate Hershey Bars (6 bars, 1.55 oz each), chopped up into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside. 
Measure out the oats and baking soda and place in a medium bowl. Set aside. 
In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly combine/cream together the peanut butters, butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat to combine.
Add the oats & baking soda mixture and stir to completely incorporate the oats. Add the chocolate pieces and raisins, and stir to evenly distribute them.
Using a medium size cookie scoop (about 1 1/2 tablespoons), scoop balls of cookie dough onto one of the parchment lined cookie sheets, spacing cookies about 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart. Gently smoosh each dough ball to about 1/2 inch thickness.
Bake one pan at a time for 9-11 minutes.* While one pan bakes, fill the next cookie sheet with dough balls.
When cookies are puffed and start to brown a little on the edges, they are done. Remove from the oven and allow cookies to cool on the pan for 2-3 minutes before removing with a spatula to a wire rack to cool completely.
Store cookies in an airtight container.

Makes about 6 dozen 3- inch cookies

*Alternately, scoop and smoosh all the dough onto wax paper-lined sheets and freeze. When dough discs are firmly frozen, transfer to a gallon size zip top bag for baking later. Bake as directed before, extending the bake time by 2-3 minutes as needed.

Ready to go into the oven.

Remember to flatten the cookie dough before baking or freezing.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Candy Cane Hot Cocoa Mix

I've been making hot cocoa from scratch for a few years now because it's really as easy as placing equal amounts of good cocoa powder, sugar, a pinch of salt, and a little hot water in the bottom of a mug, stirring to a paste, adding milk, and microwaving for 1 minute 40 seconds. This way, I know all of the ingredients going into it, and it's inexpensive compared to powdered mixes.

At any rate, last year I realized that if I wanted my favorite peppermint hot cocoa, I could either pay Williams Sonoma a ridiculous amount for their delicious hot chocolate, or I could figure out my own. I tried pulverizing some leftover candy canes and subbing that for the sugar I normally use, and to my actual surprise, it worked great.

So this year, I've decided to make it easier on myself and pre-mix the cocoa powder and candy cane dust. I've also decided to share it with anyone who also wants to enjoy delicious peppermint hot cocoa at home.

You're welcome.

Candy Cane Hot Cocoa Mix

  • 1 1/2 cups candy cane powder/crumbs (approx. 24 peppermint candy canes)
  • 1/4 cup broken candy cane pieces
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups dark cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Using a food processor or a gallon size freezer bag and a rolling pin, pulverize the candy canes until they are mostly a powder. You should get approximately 1 1/2 cups of candy cane powder/crumbs.

In a medium size bowl, add the candy cane powder, cocoa powder and salt. (If you like your hot cocoa sweeter, use the smaller amount of cocoa powder.) Mix with a whisk.

Store in mason jars or other airtight container(s).

For extra sweetness and mintiness, you can coarsely crush about 4 more candy canes and add to the mix. The basic recipe here is somewhat flexible.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups of mix.

Directions for the actual cocoa below:

Candy Cane Hot Cocoa

  • 2 tablespoons candy cane hot cocoa mix
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 8 oz milk (whichever kind you prefer)
Put the hot water and cocoa mix into a mug and stir until cocoa is dissolved into the water. You may have some unmelted bits of candy cane left at this point.

Pour milk into the mug, stir, and microwave on high for 1 minute 40 seconds. (Alternately, heat up the milk before adding it to the mug.)

Stir and enjoy, taking care to not burn your mouth.

I used a food processor to crush the candy canes.

Cocoa mix added to the water.

Milk gets added to the paste.

Not my best photography work, but you get the idea...