Candy, Danish Delights

Salty Liquorice Toffee

Did you know there’s a liquorice festival in Copenhagen this weekend? That’s why I’ve decided to share my tips for perfectly salty and serious liquorice toffee – homemade of course.

Yes, yes. Back in the toffee grind again, I know. But I don’t hear any complaints – not that I’m hearing anything much as it’s 9:30pm and I’m sitting on my couch. The most pervasive sound is the chattering from the upstairs TV and somebody’s not very dainty footsteps on the wooden floor. But I’m drifting. Back to the toffee. Above is the result of quite a bit of testing and trying. Since getting the often mentioned “Julgodis” book by Johanna Westman, that opened my eyes anew to homemade toffee, I’ve tried to find a proper replacement for the hard-boiled liquorice candy that she uses as the main flavoring ingredient in her salty liquorice version. Call me stubborn, but I think there’s something backhanded in homemade candy containing hardcore industrial candy. And let’s not get into chocolate as a counter-example. I’ll have none of that, thank you very much.

Anyway, to make a long snake short and wormy, I’ve found a replacement that works:

Salty Liquorice Toffee (adapted from Johanna Westman’s recipe for “Vaniljkola”)

  • 1,5 dl. sugar
  • 0,25 dl. corn syrup (= glukosesirup)
  • 0,25 dl. light syrup (lys sirup)
  • 1 dl. full cream
  • 3 tsp. liquorice extract (get it at MatasPanduro or Urtegaarden)
  • Max. 1,5 tsp. ammonium chloride (= salmiaksalt, get it at Urtegaarden)
  • 1 tsp. raw liquorice powder (I used the one by Johan Bülow)

Cover a baking tray with a silicone mat or waxed reusable baking paper and place a square metal cake frame on top (if you don’t have one it’s no problem. You can always fix the shape of the individual toffees when you cut them towards the end). Fill a glass or a small bowl with cold water and put it somewhere close to the stove, but make sure the water isn’t affected by the heat. Mix the liquorice extract, ammonium chloride and liquorice powder and a couple of teaspoons of the cream in a glass until you have a comparatively even paste. Pour it into a small saucepan with a heavy bottom and add the remaining ingredients. Stick in a candy or cooking thermometer. Put the stove on medium heat and warm the toffee mixture slowly. When it starts to thicken, keep a watchful eye on the temperature. In my case the perfect consistency was reached at about 115 degrees Celcius, but this is where the glass of water comes in handy. Whenever you want to test the texture, just drizzle a few drops of the mixture into the water and try it out. If it comes apart, it needs more time, if you can ball it, try tasting it. The longer it cooks, the harder and chewier it gets. Plus it’s a great way to check if you are happy with the flavour while there’s still a chance to change it.

When you’re satisfied with the texture, quickly pour the toffee onto the prepared baking tray (with or without a metal frame – both will do fine). If you’re impatient like me, see if you can find room for the tray in the fridge (maybe 30 mins), freezer (about 15 mins) or wherever it’s really cold (a while). That will speed up the process considerably. Check the toffee now and again, and when it’s cold to the touch but still soft enough to make indentations with a fork, move it to a cutting board and slice it into individual toffees with a smooth-bladed knife or a pizza knife. Wrap individually to prevent them from re-morphing into a big monster (like that scene in Terminator 2 – couldn’t find the clip on YouTube – what’s up with that anyway? It’s a classic scene!). For the wrapping, I recommend either unbleached baking paper or cellophane (the expensive choice – each sheet is about 7 euro cent, so imagine old Scrooge here, when people just pull them apart absent-mindedly while talking about things like parking tickets or the perfect cuticle cream…).

The good thing about slicing and wrapping is that you get to chomp down all of the uneven bits. So enjoy!