Boredom + bare pantry = Toasted Sesame Toffee. I love food that you could make with ingredients you may find preserved in Scott’s hut in Antarctica for 100 years. Or simply in your cupboard awaiting their transformation from a pantry staple into a shining light of deliciousness.
I’ve been thinking about caramel a bit recently. Ever since Mrs Melanger , who is possibly… no, definitely the most professional and hardworking blogger in Brisbane, dedicated a whole month to caramel. There is a lot of science that can go into making caramel and toffee. The great thing about it is it’s predictable. Don’t get me wrong – it’s still bloody scary to work with! The predictable bit is sugar will always change consistancy at certain temperatures. Going from sugar crystals to a smooth sticky syrup, all the way through to a hard snappy toffee. There are a number stages, see here for all the details. Caramel is achieved at 174°C. Hence the reason why you don’t want to make this with a toddler running around your feet!
There are a few methods to creating toffee and I’ve used the dry caramel method. It’s nice and quick, it doesn’t allow you to become complacent (the enemy of a good toffee!) and once you get your head around having a substance at close to 200 degrees that close to your face it’s actually quite simple.
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup lightly toasted sesame seeds (toast them in a dry frypan over medium heat until slightly golden)
My Tips for making perfect Dry Caramel (with sesame seeds)
1. Be fearless!… but cautious. It will all happen pretty quickly but remember – it’s all predictable. It will turn into caramel – and that’s the goal!
2. Spread a piece of aluminium foil on your bench, fold the sides up a centimetre on each side, and brush it completely with a little oil.
3. Take the sugar and pour it into a heavy-bottomed pan, shake the pan so it sits in a level layer
4. Heat it on medium heat. What will happen at first is the outer edge will begin to liquefy like this…
5. Soon it will start to colour and become even more liquid. Sometimes you may need to push the sugar crystals down closer to the bottom, press it with a wooden spoon, but try not to stir it too much.
….First of all – sorry I didn’t get any more photos of the process! It was just me, the camera and the caramel that day!
6. What will happen next is all the sugar crystals will disappear. This is when you take it off the heat. To stop the caramel from getting any darker, have the kitchen sink filled with a centimetre of cool water. Dip the bottom of the pan very briefly into the cool water. This should slow down the cooking.
7. Carefully add and stir the sesame seeds in and quickly pour the liquid onto the waiting aluminium foil. Scrape the excess out of the pan with the wooden spoon.
8. Wait until it is warm to the touch, turn it over onto a plate and peel off the aluminium foil. Do this while it’s still warm so it doesn’t stick.
Mmm – look at those little sesame seeds taking a dip in the caramel ocean
9. Again, while still warm, crack it into bite sized pieces with your hands. If you wait until it is cool it may shatter too much.
10. To clean, once the pan is warm fill it to the brim with hot water from the tap. Don’t worry about it – it’ll dissolve eventually (maybe 2 days later!!)
11. Keep the toffee in the fridge in a air-tight container or ziplock bag. Humidity is the other enemy of caramel!
Gratuitous Sesame Seed shot…