While it’s not quite Christmas yet we have now entered the time of the year when it’s completely acceptable to start the Christmas decorations, something I see as the green light to start making Christmas candy and cakes too!
And maybe because of that (I do have a very sweet tooth!) it is one of my favourite times of the year. Even though I live in a country that celebrates this wonderful holiday dressed in shorts and thongs (not meaning the underwear kind!) I cannot help but to get that giddy feeling of excitement when I think of Christmas Day. Now, when I have a little daughter of my own, it feels even more important than before to try and incorporate some of my family’s Swedish christmas traditions into our Australian life. And what better way to do so than to do it through candy?
When we were little the days leading up to Christmas always used to be a frenzy of baking, cooking and present wrapping. As our darling Mamma never really loved having the house decorated for christmas a whole month in advanced (unlike most swedes!) she would spend the whole night of the 23rd (we celebrate on the 24th!) decorating the place, while we made toffee (or “kola” as we call it). Standing by the stove with my sister and dad we’d do the famous “ball test”, dropping the still boiling toffee into a glass of water to see if it would hold its shape and be ready to be poured into the tray. We’d then place in the snowy window sill to cool as quickly as possible before devouring a few too many pieces for the tooth-fairy’s liking.
We always wrap our toffee in baking paper cut into squares or rectangular shapes to avoid it sticking together and it’s something I still think is a nice little touch. It makes eating these delicious little morsels of christmas even more special. And it makes it the perfect christmas present too! Just put it in a glass jar, wrap a red ribbon around it and you’re done.
My dad makes a version of this that is made with cocoa, making the toffee deliciously rich and chocolatey and you can pretty much put anything you like into it. I’ve made versions with orange zest, flaked almonds, gingerbread spice or saffron. The options are endless but here comes the recipe that I love the most. The salt marries so well with the toffee and it’s very hard not to want to eat it all before christmas day, I’d recommend making at least three batches and hide one away in the pantry for yourself. You need the energy for the present wrapping.
WHAT YOU NEED
1 tray, depending on desired thickness of your toffee make it anywhere between 15x20cm or 30×20. For these toffees I used a large one as I like them to be quite thin and long.
1 large sauce pan and a wooden spoon
50g butter (I like to use the salted one)
300 g cream
210 g golden syrup
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
A pinch of salt
Sea salt flakes for the top
- Start with lining your baking tray with baking paper. Always rub it with a little butter to make the paper stick.
- Fold additional sheets of baking papers into desired length and tear (or cut!) the papers. Put aside until after the toffee is cooled and ready to be cut.
- Weight all the ingredients and place in a large sauce pan.
- Bring to the boil and let boil on medium heat for about 25 minutes before doing the “ball test”. Alternatively use a thermometer to see if the caramel has reached 125 degrees celsius. Drop a bit of the toffee into a glass of cold water, if the ball of toffee holds together well it’s ready to be poured into the baking tray. If not let it boil another five mins and try again. A side note: I rather boil the toffee for a little too long than too short. Crunchy toffee is also delicious, as is caramel sauce (which always happen to me if I don’t do the ball test properly!) but soft toffee is the best so it’s worth testing a few times.
- Pour the toffee into the baking tray and let it cool for about 15 mins before sprinkling it with sea salt flakes. Just sprinkle it in a corner first to see that it doesn’t sink in too much first, if so wait and let it cool a little more.
- Once the toffee is completely cool take it out of the tray and cut up into pieces of desires size. Wrap in the small pieces of baking paper or cut and place with space in between them in a plastic container. Just make sure you put baking paper in between each layer or you’ll have one great big caramel (which really isn’t too bad…).