Homemade Sponge Toffee (corn syrup-free!)
I promised a very giftable treat and here it is! A bit indulgent, this homemade sponge toffee is light and crisp. My recipe avoids the corn syrup you'll often find in other recipes, making this a little bit better for you on the scale of such treats. Naturally gluten free and vegan, this treat is a winner with everyone who tries it.
I'm surprising even myself with posts just 5 days apart ;) I just wanted to make sure that as we all head into the last week before Christmas, that you'd have this recipe in case you're looking for the type of homemade, giftable treat that makes everyone happy (no matter what their dietary needs are). It naturally ticks the gluten free and vegan boxes, but also has no corn syrup (an enormous win for me!).
As a kid, I used to love candy bars and even though I can't remember my parents ever giving in while we were in the grocery store line and the rows of chocolate would be right there, taunting me, I somehow would get my hands on a Crunchie bar every chance I could. Crunchie bars, with that sweet crunchy-yet-airy toffee centre under a layer of milk chocolate. Consider my homemade sponge toffee covered in dark chocolate an elevated version, if you will. Instead of the traditional candy ingredients (and who knows what else) that usually make up sponge toffee, this one incorporates some better options. Maple syrup and brown rice syrup are two sweeteners that I am happy to use in place of corn syrup (yuck). A coat of dark chocolate - especially 80% cocoa like I used here - balances out the sweetness really well here. Beyond that, magic happens when you add the baking soda to the boiling syrup mix, so this is actually pretty fun to make! Including cooling time, this only takes about an hour to whip up and for me at least, that quick timeframe means that this has been totally do-able despite how busy this season tends to be.
I've been wrapping up cute little boxes of this lately as hostess gifts and they've been so well-received. I hope your loved ones enjoy these as much as mine have! I have one more recipe I'm hoping to post before the holiday. If you saw my instagram recently, you know it's totally in the realm of holiday brunches. Sending you all vibes of peace and calm for the holidays, and wishing you a wonderful week! xo
Homemade Sponge Toffee
This recipe will give you about 2-3 cups of toffee pieces, or enough for 4 small gift boxes. The recipe can be easily doubled. The size of your pan matters - too large, and the toffee will spread too much and be thin. I like to line a medium-sized bowl with parchment paper for thick pieces, or use a loaf pan. A brownie tin (8x8") would be perfect if you are doubling the recipe. Get all your ingredients and your pan ready before you start - the process is easy but moves quickly once you add the baking soda! It is honestly best if you can use some sort of thermometer so you'll know when you reach 300 degrees F (I use a barista thermometer). I give some notes about what to look for if you're doing this without one though.
2 tbsp water
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp organic cane sugar
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp brown rice syrup
a pinch of sea salt
a pinch of vanilla bean powder (optional)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 bar (85 g) dark chocolate (my favourite is 80% cocoa and sweetened with coconut sugar)
Combine all the ingredients EXCEPT the baking soda in a medium pot. Stir to combine and place over medium high heat. Continue stirring until the sugar starts to dissolve, but only until the mixture comes to a boil - at this point, stop stirring! You can swirl the pan occasionally. Allow the mixture to boil for about 6-7 minutes, until it reaches 300 degrees F on your thermometer. If you don't have a thermometer, than keep a close eye on the timing and look for the mixture to darken to a deep amber hue. Using the thermometer, I've found that the mixture needs to stay on the heat and boil for about a minute once it reaches a dark amber colour. Consistently, I've found that once the mixture starts simmering, it takes 6-7 minutes to get to the right temp.
Remove from heat and quickly whisk in the baking soda. The mixture will lighten in colour and bubble up, increasing in volume. Quickly but carefully (because it's very hot) pour the mixture into the prepared dish, using the whisk or a spatula to scrap out as much toffee as you can. The toffee starts to harden as it cools. Don't spread it out in the dish, as you don't want it to become thin. Set aside to cool.
Once the mixture is completely cool (at least 30 minutes), lift the parchment out of the dish and place the toffee on a cutting board. Stick the point of a sharp knife into the toffee to help break it into pieces (avoid "cutting" the toffee, because it will end up crumbling). It's okay that the pieces will be uneven in size. I like to keep the toffee crumbs that collect as you break apart the pieces to use as a garnish after dipping the toffee in chocolate.
Use a sharp knife to finely chop the chocolate, and place it in a bowl set over top of a small pot with about an inch of water. Be careful not to let any water into the bowl of chocolate, or else the chocolate will seize and be unusable. Set the pot over medium heat. Stir the chocolate occasionally as it's melting. Remove the bowl once the chocolate is almost completely melted and stir until all the chocolate is melted and you have a smooth liquid.
Line a plate or cutting board with parchment paper and set aside.
Using two forks, dip toffee pieces one at a time into the chocolate bath. Be sure to cover all sides then lift the toffee out, carefully tapping it against the side of the bowl so that any excess chocolate drips back in. Set onto a piece of parchment paper, and garnish with a littles sprinkle of toffee dust if you like. Once all the toffee is coated in the chocolate, place the tray into the fridge to help it set.
Toffee should be kept in an airtight container, either in the fridge or at room temperature, and keeps for at least 1 week.
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