Christmas Toffee


I can’t remember a Christmas of late that hasn’t included chocolate toffee.  It started when I was first married.  Eager to prove I was a grown up and a successful entertainer.  When my parents agreed to come to Delaware to spend Christmas with us I went nuts.  I am sure I made fiftimg_0769y kinds of cookies, fudge, bars, candy, you name it.  So much so that my dad and his sweet tooth were overwhelmed.  Normally a very sensible man, he was mesmerized by so much confection . . . he ate it all.  He liked to tell people that he was not a real “sweets person” but those of us who knew him knew better.  A trip to the ER with stomach pains inspired us to give lots of treats to neighbors, friends, homeless people, etc.

I have calmed down a bit after that year but one thing that never goes off the list is my homemade chocolate toffee with almonds and pecans.  It took a few years to perfect it.  The toffee was too grainy.  The chocolate didn’t harden.  Nuts were not delicious (toasted nuts are much better).  Now after about 35 years later I think I have it down pat.  Just don’t eat it all in one setting.

The hardest part of this recipe is the patience and getting use to watching the different stages of toffee.  Is it ever going to get the amber color?  Is it suppose to get this thick?  Why does it separating?  Be patient.  I tried to include some pictures of the stages the confection will go through.  Literally times no time at all to complete.





1 1/4 c. unsalted butter

1 1/4 c. sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla

pinch of kosher salt

2 c. semisweet mini chocolate chips (if all you have is regular chips that is fine)

1/2 c. toasted chopped almonds

1/2 c. toasted chopped pecans

Sea Salt to top



Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Toast and chop your nuts.  By the way you can sub almonds and pecans for other nuts, but why would you?

In a heavy duty saucepan over medium heat, melt butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Stirring constantly with a wood spoon.  Continue cooking after the butter melts.  You will go through several stages of color and texture.  The continuous stirring keeps the butter and sugar from separating.







Let butter melt and then cook, stirring constantly with a spatula (so the butter and sugar don’t separate!), until mixture turns a dark amber, 15  to 20 minutes, maybe even more. If it takes longer than this you may not you may not have the heat hig enough so turn it up and keep stirring.  Always stirring.  Some prefer to use a candy thermometer to determine whether it is done.  If so you should shoot for 288 degrees or the hard crack stage.) This mixture should be amber in color.

Pour toffee mixture onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and immediately spread out the chocolate chips evenly on top of the toffee mixture. Let it set a minute to melt and using a spatula spread the melted chips evenly over the toffee mixture.


Sprinkle the nuts evenly over the top.  Lightly press down on the toffee with your hand to embed the nuts.  Top with sea salt.  I like the flaky kind.


Refrigerate until set, about 2 or so hours. Then cut or break into pieces.



Hint:  I store the leftover crumbles, from the breaking and cutting in a container to serve over ice cream.

Chocolate. Need I Say More


One of my favorite things to make (okay, and eat) are chocolate bouchons.  I use the recipe from the Thomas Keller Bouchon Bakery.  They are easy and delicious.  You must however, use good ingredients!  Bouchon is a french word that means,  a stopper or cork at the mouth of a bottle.  They are best seimg_0778rved warm.  It’s a little bit of heaven.  The bouchon or timbale silicone molds can be purchased at Williams and Sonoma for $29.95 or at for $20.00.

I make these a lot because they are delicious, chocolate, easy and very elegant looking.  There are no words for their deliciousness except, eat up!




Recipe courtesy of Bouchon Bakery




Butter and flour for the timbale molds

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

24 tablespoons (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and slightly warm

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, such as Valrhona Equatoriale (55%), chopped into pieces the size of chocolate chips
Confectioners’ sugar


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Butter and flour 12 timbale molds (Bouchon Bakery uses 2-ounce Fleximolds and serves smaller bouchons. You can also use 3-ounce [2- to 2 1/2-inch diameter] timbale molds for larger cakes.) Set aside.

3. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and salt into a bowl; set aside. In a large bowl, mix together the eggs and sugar on medium speed for about 3 minutes, or until very pale in color. Mix in the vanilla. On low speed, add about one-third of the dry ingredients, then one-third of the butter, and continue alternating with the remaining flour and butter. Add the chocolate and mix to combine. (The batter can be refrigerated for up to a day.)

4. Put the timbale molds on a baking sheet. Place the batter in a pastry bag without a tip, and fill each mold about two-thirds full. Place in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. When the tops look shiny and set (like a brownie), test one cake with a toothpick: It should come out clean but not dry (there may be some melted chocolate from the chopped chocolate). Transfer the bouchons to a cooling rack. After a couple of minutes, invert the timbale molds and let the bouchons cool upside down in the molds; then lift off the molds.

5. To serve, invert the bouchons and dust them with confectioners’ sugar. Serve with ice cream if desired. (The bouchons are best eaten the day they are baked.)