Sweet & Salty Toffee: The Only Holiday Recipe You Need

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toffee-twoPhotographed by Rockie Nolan.
We're here. It's real now. It's time to buckle up and slap on some lipstick. We have reached Holiday Party DEFCON 1, and the only way to get through it is with a decent pair of tights and a good game face. And, this: the only party favor you need. This is Sweet & Salty Holiday Toffee, guaranteed to please all and to make you the most popular girl in the room, if not solar system.

Ed. Note: Of all the recipes I have published here over the years, this is my favorite — no contest. It is, quite simply, the best thing I make.

The best part about this is its absurd simplicity. The ingredients can be purchased at your corner deli, and the active cooking time is just 15 minutes, at which point it cools in the freezer for 45 while you shower and get primped and try not to stick your head in the freezer and stare at it. If you're looking to bring a party treat that's better than a bottle of wine but not as labor-intensive as a batch of cookies then STOP READING, THIS IS BETTER THAN BOTH THOSE THINGS AND EVERYTHING ELSE ON EARTH.

You're welcome. Happy Holidays.
toffee-1Photographed by Rockie Nolan.
Sweet & Salty Holiday Toffee

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter
2 tbsp water
1 box Graham crackers (Original — none of this honey nonsense)
1 11 1/2 oz bag good-quality milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1-1 1/2 tbsp Maldon sea salt (coarse kosher salt works too)

Line a 9x13 dish with aluminum foil and lay graham crackers along the bottom. Break them into smaller pieces to fill in any gaps as needed. A little overlap is fine.

Fill a glass with cold water, and keep it on the counter next to you.

Over a medium-high heat, melt butter, water, and sugar together in a non-stick pot, stirring until the butter is incorporated. Let the mixture bubble (over a medium/medium-high heat) for six-eight minutes, stirring frequently, until it’s reached the soft-ball stage. This is where the mixture forms a little lump when drizzled into cold water — that's where the glass comes in. Just dip a knife in the mixture and let a little drip off into the water. If you have a candy thermometer, this is even easier. You want the toffee to reach 185 degrees, then immediately remove from heat. Your kitchen should smell like caramel, but not burned caramel.

Pour toffee over graham crackers and spread it evenly with a spatula or large spoon. Immediately, sprinkle the chocolate chips over the toffee. Let it sit for about a minute, letting the chips soften, then spread over the toffee with the spatula as they melt.

Finish by sprinkling with almonds and sea salt, then pop the pan into the freezer.

Hang out. Have a drink, why don't you?

After 45 minutes, or once the toffee-chocolate awesomeness has hardened, remove and peel off the foil. Break the toffee into roughly cookie-sized chunks, throw ‘em in a tin and head out the door.

Accept praise graciously.