Yesterday on Facebook I posted a note that I had just finished making toffee for the first time in oh.... fifteen years? Well, it actually came out right and tasted good too (these things are, after all mutually exclusive). One of my Book dealer friends on Facebook asked for the recipe.
So I got to thinking ...
The recipe itself is easy. (I'll get to that in a moment). The cook book for it, however, has a story behind it.
This cookbook is a little stapled wrap cookbook that came with the first ever microwave oven I ever used.
Vintage 1979. It was brand new, from a local appliance store and my mom broke down and spent real money on it (not THE most expensive brand at the time, mind you, as we were poor, but not the bottom of the barrel brand either). It had a dial to twist to enter how many minutes you wanted to cook. It had -- and this was the expensive part at that time - a turntable bottom (glass thingy which probably has a name) so you didn't have to open the oven up and turn your food around every two minutes.
I have no idea how much it cost. But with the price of the oven came CLASSES.
My mom and I tripped down to this store in the evening once a week for about six weeks to learn how to use the microwave. And with the class came this cook book. (I was meaning to grab a photo of it, but today was one of those hectic end of school days).
This cook book is one I would never part with. It's stained, it's folded ever which way. It is still completely stapled together, which is a plus, and there are probably twenty or so recipes in the book. Me, I keep it for three (possibly four if I looked through) recipes.
and Broccoli Beef
I have a drawer full of other cook books that get used just about the same amount -- meaning there's one or two, or maybe even five recipes that I might use out of the book. But they are DARNED good recipes. Except, that is, for my 1963 Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. (I'll leave that book for another day. Couldn't live without it).
So several weeks ago, I got an urge to have some toffee. I found the cookbook and checked the list of ingredients. I had all of them except the chocolate chips (well, and the ground almonds, but they weren't a necessary part of the recipe for me). Couldn't make it then, so I threw it up on top of the bread maker in the kitchen and didn't think about it again until yesterday, when, in a fit of cleaning I tossed the stuff on top of the bread maker back in the drawer. Except this little cookbook.
I looked over at Honored Husband and said, want some toffee?
He gave me one of those looks.
Then said, WHAT?
Which, I finally realized meant that in all the years we were married, I never MADE this toffee for him.
He walked away and thought no more about it.
I, on the other hand, pulled out the meager list of ingredients and got to work.
So here's the deal -- the recipe is EASY.
1/2 cup ground almonds (to put on top, if you desire... I didn't have any & Honored Husband can't eat them so I left them off)
1 cup (approximately) chocolate chips
1 cup butter (must be REAL butter to work)
1 box brown sugar (dark or light doesn't seem to matter)
Melt the butter in the Microwave slowly so it doesn't burn
Add the sugar and mix well.
In the recipe, it says to run the microwave for 9 minutes, stopping every three minutes to stir -- cook until the mixture reaches the hard crack stage, then empty onto a greased / buttered cookie sheet. Sprinkle the choc. chips on top, let them melt a bit then spread evenly over the toffee. Sprinkle all of this with the almonds. BE CAREFUL -- MIXTURE IS VERY HOT (as if you didn't know )
First thing to note -- microwaves are more powerful now. I only put the mixture in for 5 minutes and it was ready. Personally, I think you can use as many or few choc. chips as you want on top. With or without almonds, I don't care.
Oh, and since it was an experiment, I went for half a recipe. Which, if your interested, is 1/ 2 cup butter and 2 cups sugar (figuring out the sugar part took longer than anything else... who's got a box of sugar around so I can check... darn, it's by pounds, not cups... math.... math... throw sugar in with a practiced eye).
The Peanut Brittle is just as good. I don't make it anymore because I would eat the entire batch ....and that's NOT good.
The Broccoli Beef is a household staple, but I've definitely modified the recipe -- don't even look at the recipe any longer so may not be anywhere near what's on the printed page.
And as for the microwave from 1979 --- it lasted until 2002. GREAT machine. Simple, yes, but got the job done. We replaced it in 2002 with something a bit more fancy. It broke last month. And the man at the appliance store said that nowadays, they are set to last 3-5 years. THAT'S ALL!
And no lessons were offered with the new one either.