This toffee is the creation of Eric Estrella, Payard’s former corporate pastry chef. The peppermint can be replaced by any flavor of your choosing, so don’t hesitate to try different variations. Some of the flavors we’re partial to are espresso, maple, and good, strong vanilla. The creaminess of the crunchy toffee is further accentuated by the crisp coat of tempered chocolate. Package these in a nice tin, for a beautiful and tasty gift.–François Payard
For the toffee
- 1 1/3 cups heavy cream
- 1/3 cup light corn syrup
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 or 4 drops peppermint oil or 1 teaspoon pure mint extract
For the coating (tempered chocolate)
- 1 pound couverture chocolate finely chopped
Make the toffee
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
- With a candy thermometer handy, combine the cream, corn syrup, and sugar in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. If sugar sticks to the sides of the pan, dip a pastry brush in water and brush the sides.
- When the mixture begins to turn slightly golden, gently swirl the pan to make sure that the sugar melts evenly and the color is uniform. Cook until the mixture reaches 275°F (135°C) on the candy thermometer. Remove it from the heat, and stir in the peppermint oil until it is completely incorporated.
- Pour the toffee into the prepared baking sheet and spread in an even layer, no more than 1/4-inch thick. Let it cool completely.
Temper the chocolate
- Put a third of the chocolate in a bowl, and set it aside.
- With a chocolate or instant-read thermometer handy, fill a medium pot one-third full with water and bring it to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Place the chopped chocolate in a bowl that will fit snuggly on top of the pot but not touch the water. Reduce the heat to low and place the bowl over the pot. Occasionally stir the chocolate gently with a silicone spatula, until it is completely melted. Check its temperature regularly to make sure that you do not go above the desired temperature.
- Alternatively, place the chopped chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave it on high power for 15 seconds, then remove it and stir it with a silicone spatula. Return it to the microwave for another 15 seconds, remove, and stir. Repeat until the chocolate is completely melted.
- Once the chocolate reaches the desired temperature (dark chocolate = 121°F to 131°F [49°C to 55°C]; milk chocolate = 113°F to 119°F [45°C to 48°C] ; white chocolate = 113°F to 118°F [45°C to 48°C]), stir in the reserved chocolate to lower the chocolate to the cooling temperature for its type (dark chocolate = 82°F to 84°F [28°C to 29°C]; milk chocolate = 80°F to 82°F [27°C to 28°C]; white chocolate = 78°F to 80°F [25°C to 27°C]). Once that temperature is reached, return the chocolate to the double boiler or to the microwave and briefly heat it so that it reaches its working temperature: dark chocolate = 87°F (31°C); milk chocolate = 86°F (30°C); white chocolate = 84°F (29°C).
- With a large offset spatula, spread a thin layer of tempered chocolate over the toffee. Let it set, about 30 minutes. Turn the toffee over, and spread a thin layer of chocolate on that side. Let the chocolate set, then break the toffee into pieces of desired size. Once you are finished, pour any leftover tempered chocolate in a resealable plastic container, and let it solidify into a block. Temper it again as needed until you run out of it.
- Store toffee in an airtight container in a dry, cool environment for up to 2 weeks.
Originally published November 27, 2008