What is it about candy thermometers that are so intimidating? Is it that they look a little dangerous?
It took a really easy but delicious-looking fleur de sel toffee recipe to help me overcome my fear of using one.
The ingredients for the toffee are pretty much butter and sugar, plus a lot of patience. It doesn't take long for an eye-popping amount of butter to melt down into a creamy yellow goo, but after that, it's a waiting game.
Eventually, the mixture bubbles down, getting more and more golden. Keep an eye on the candy thermometer, but don't get too freaked out when the temperature isn't even close to what it needs to be. At some point, it'll go up to the magic point when you know the molten candy is ready.
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Pour it into a big greased pan, and take a deep breath -- what an amazing smell. One of the best smells in the world. Sprinkle sea salt across the shiny surface, and then just let the thing cool down.
Once it's completely cooled, the fun part -- that is, the destructive part -- begins. Just whack away at the pan of toffee, then grab individual pieces to break into even smaller ones. The back handle of a butter knife seems to do the trick.
This stuff tastes amazing, but if you just can't get over your candy thermometer phobia, I discovered a handy substitute: fleur de sel caramels, available at Trader Joe's -- Michele Laudig