Honey Caramel Apples

09 October 2013

Shattered Honey Toffee

½ Cup honey
½ Cup sugar, preferably organic cane sugar
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ Cup chocolate chips, melted
½ Cup pecans, chopped and roasted
Sea salt or kosher salt, to taste (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a large sheet pan or cookie sheet and set aside. In a deep heavy-bottomed pot, combine the honey, sugar and butter. Clip a candy thermometer to the side. Adjust the heat to high, stir a bit then let the mixture come to a foamy boil without stirring. There is no need to stir until it gets quite hot, around 200-250 degrees, and you start seeing it darken around the edges. At this point, lower the heat a bit to medium or medium high and stir gently.

As soon as your thermometer reads 300 degrees, remove the pot from the heat and immediately pour the toffee onto the buttered sheet pan, making sure to pour evenly across the surface, and then spread gently with a greased rubber spatula to get an even thickness. You should have enough to spread to all the edges of the pan. Be very careful during this process, as the liquid candy is EXTREMELY HOT. Place sheet pan of toffee in the freezer while you prepare the chocolate and nuts.

Roughly chop pecans and spread them on a cookie sheet. Roast in preheated oven for 6 to 8 minutes, shaking the pan to toss at least once. Don't skip the roasting; it makes them so tasty! You can do this step ahead, if desired. In a double boiler or microwave melt the chocolate chips. Remove the toffee from the freezer, making sure it is cool and hard to the touch. Spread the melted chocolate thinly over the top and sprinkle the roasted pecans on top of the chocolate. I like to sprinkle some coarse sea salt over the top too. Now pop the cookie sheet back in the freezer and wait for the chocolate to set.

Once the toffee is chilled, remove the cookie sheet and gather the kids around for the dramatic shatter! Drop the cookie sheet flat on the floor once or twice, then use a spatula to remove the pieces to a plate or airtight container, storing them in a single layer with parchment paper in between. I like to keep mine in the freezer. Honey has a tendency to absorb moisture and you may find them less crunchy if you leave them on the counter.

Honey Caramel Apples

To make caramel apples, prepare the toffee as above but use 1 cup of honey (no sugar) and 3 tablespoons of butter. You can also stop the heating around 280-290 degrees for a chewier, sticky consistency, or take it all the way to 300 for a crunchier texture. We love using the small, tart apples from our backyard tree. Skewer the apples on wooden sticks and roll them in the toffee, spooning the mixture over the apples as needed. We also employ the "drizzle and spin" method where one person rotates the apple on the skewer while another drizzles the toffee over the apple in little ribbons. Set the apples on a buttered tray and leave them in the fridge to harden for fifteen minutes or so.
You can add chocolate, carob, roasted nuts or a sprinkling of sea salt to the outside of your apples, but they're also delicious just as they are.