Hazelnut Espresso Toffee

One of my favorite quotes of all time is from Pablo Picasso: “Good artists copy.  Great artists steal.”  And it’s true.  Every great artist got his best idea from someone else.  This is along the same vein as every note already being sung.

for some lucky recipients

I stole this recipe from Smitten Kitchen.  It’s a blog I check obsessively.  Deb’s recipes never done me wrong, and I never hesitate to use her recipe for a crowd, even (especially!) if it’s the first time I’ve ever made it.  It makes my boyfriend nervous, but I know it will always come out great.

This recipe was special because I was making sure it was Kosher for my boss, who is Jewish.  Luckily I was already out of sugar and the like, and I have special dishes just for baking that I don’t let anyone else use.  So it’s not like I had to go completely out of my way to make it extra-special just for her.  But I would have, because I’m awesome like that.

Did you guys know this symbol stands for Kosher?

Yep, it's true.

Check it out.  I bet you eat a lot more Kosher items than you thought.

Smitten Kitchen’s Coffee Toffee x2 is BFN’s Hazelnut Espresso Toffee….because I wanted it to sound impressive.

4 sticks or 16 ounces (!!!!)

1 cup light brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

3 teaspoons molasses (can swap corn syrup or honey)

1/2 teaspoon salt (or a heaping 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt)

3 teaspoons instant espresso powder (I used Café Bustelo, which I’m not sure is instant or not, didn’t make a difference in the outcome)

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, or 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
(I actually probably ended up using about 3 cups, it’s slightly more like a candy bar)

1 cup chopped hazelnuts – or other nut of your choice, but hazelnuts are delicious.  (toasted, skinned, cooled,and chopped – yes, it’s a pain in the butt.  Do you have a friend or relative who needs an outlet for their anger?  Put them to work with a rolling pin or tenderizer.)

Line 2 small baking sheets (mine are 9×13, to fit in my teeny oven) with parchment paper or a silicon mat and set aside.

In medium heavy saucepan with a candy thermometer attached, melt butter, brown sugar, white sugar, molasses, salt and espresso together over together. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a whisk (an electric one would be really helpful – I tossed my hand blender because it was a hand-me-down from the early 80s – my hand cramped up doing this manually) until the temperature approaches 250F, at which point you should stir constantly until it reaches 300F-310F or what is known as the Hard Crack Stage.

Pour immediately into the prepared baking sheet — you can spread it more evenly with an offset or silicon spatula, but don’t worry if you have neither. Dump the chocolate chips over the hot toffee and let them sit for a minute.  When they look shiny, spread the chocolate over the toffee. Sprinkle the whole thing with the smushed hazelnuts.  Then just wait.  If you want it to harden faster, cover it loosely with plastic wrap and cram it into your tiny freezer, but do it fast before the other stuff starts falling out.

Nutty...hazelnutty.

Break into pieces and store in an airtight container. If your kitchen runs warm, or has a gigantic leaky radiator in it, you might prefer to keep it in the fridge so the chocolate doesn’t get soft.

Notice how gorgeous the photos are?  This is mutually beneficial relationship.

I will give a jar of toffee to whoever can name the movie that the caption from the 2nd photo is from.

Something to Nibble

OK I lied.  Hazelnut espresso toffee is not going to be my first post.  I just can’t wait.  I’m that excited.  Until I get my toffee making supplies in order, I thought I would share a recipe that I made in October that produced plenty to go around.  It was a big hit with the neighbors.

The recipe is out of a book called Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by two dudes who own Baked in the Red Hook area of Brooklyn.  Even if you’re baking-challenged you can enjoy this book.  It’s beautiful.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Whoopie Cushions (the cookies)

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups firmly packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 cups pumpkin puree, chilled
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Filling

  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • This was the first time I made this recipe, but if I did it again, I’d put a little something extra in the filling – maple syrup (not too much it needs to be firm), crystallized ginger pieces, nuts.  Anything with a warm flavor to complement the pumpkin.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves; set aside. In another large bowl, whisk together brown sugar and oil until well combined. Add pumpkin puree and whisk until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk until well combined. Sprinkle flour mixture over pumpkin mixture and whisk until fully incorporated.  You really don’t want to whisk this by hand.  The key is to whisk for about 2-5 minutes longer than you probably think you should.  Everything needs to be well combined and fluffy.
  3. Drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Transfer to oven and bake until cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of each cookie comes out clean, about 15 minutes. This is an extremely cakey cookie….not really a cookie at all.  Think Oreo Cakesters, but BETTER.

    mmm.....cake-cookie

  4. Make the filling: Sift confectioner’ sugar into a medium bowl; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth. Add cream cheese and beat until well combined. Add confectioners’ sugar and vanilla, beat just until smooth. I made my filling a day before the cookies.  To do this just cover and refrigerate. Let it stand at room temperature while you make the cookies, or while the cookies or cooling.  If you don’t it will be too firm and gloop out of your exploding pastry bag, or ziploc with a whole cut in the corner.
  5. Transfer filling to a disposable pastry bag (aka freezer bag) and snip the end. When cookies have cooled completely, pipe a large dollop of filling on the flat side of half of the cookies. Sandwich with remaining cookies, pressing down slightly so that the filling spreads to the edge of the cookies. I know it’s hard to wait for the cookies to cool completely, but trust me, the filling is surprisingly not better all warm and runny…unless it’s on a toaster pastry of some sort.  The recipe suggests transfering to a prepared baking sheet and covering with plastic wrap to refrigerate cookies at least 30 minutes before serving and up to 3 days.  I definitely did not wait 30 minutes after the 30 it took for the cookies to cool, and they were gone in 1 day.

mmmmm filling

Eventually I will make something quasi-healthy.

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