Makes about 4 pounds, or about 16 servings
- 1 pound (4 sticks) high-quality unsalted butter, cubed, plus about 1 tsp. for greasing a baking sheet
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- About 2 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
- 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- About 4 cups (26 ounces) chopped milk chocolate
If you don't have a spider skimmer or 10-inch tweezers, you can fake it with a regular dinner fork, but it'll take you about three times as long and the candies won't look quite as nice.
To make the buttercrunch center:
Generously butter one of the baking sheets, making sure to get into the corners. Set it aside on a heatproof surface.
Place the 1 pound butter, the sugar, and the salt in the cast-iron skillet and melt over high heat, stirring once or twice with a whisk to combine.
Once the butter is completely melted, reduce the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring frequently with the whisk, until the mixture has thickened slightly and turned a tan color, 15 to 20 minutes.
Insert the candy thermometer, holding it with one hand to keep an eye on the temperature. Continue to cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with the whisk, until the mixture has reached 305° (hard crack stage), 10 to 12 minutes.
Wearing oven mitts (the skillet will be extremely hot), immediately remove the skillet from the heat and pour the hot mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Allow it to cool until it is slightly set but still soft, about 5 minutes.
Using a sharp chef's knife or bench scraper, score the buttercrunch into 1-inch squares, marking the scores several times as it cools (the score marks will want to close up when the mixture is still hot).
Allow the buttercrunch to cool completely, about 1 hour. When the buttercrunch is completely cooled and set, break it into pieces along the score lines and place the pieces in a medium-size bowl.
To coat the buttercrunch:
While the buttercrunch is cooling, toast the walnuts: Preheat your oven to 250°. Spread the walnuts in an even layer on a large baking sheet and toast them, stirring occasionally, until they're golden brown and fragrant and the skins are starting to flake, about 20 minutes. Allow them to cool completely on the baking sheet, 20 to 30 minutes. Then place the walnuts in a medium-size bowl, sprinkle the salt over them, and toss well to combine.
Melt the 4 cups chocolate. Place the melted chocolate or chocolate coating in a medium-size bowl.
Wash and dry the first large baking sheet and line it with wax or parchment paper. Set up your dipping station, from left to right (or right to left, if you're a lefty), as follows: bowl with "naked" buttercrunch pieces; bowl with melted chocolate or chocolate coating; skimmer and tweezers, or fork; bowl of toasted, salted walnuts; lined baking sheet. If you want to use gloves, put them on now (the walnuts will make a sticky, messy layer on your hands).
Dip the buttercrunch: Working with a few pieces at a time, drop the naked buttercrunch into the bowl of chocolate and submerge the pieces with the skimmer. Use the skimmer to scoop and lift the candy out of the chocolate, tapping the skimmer handle on the rim of the bowl to drain off the excess chocolate. (Alternatively, if using a fork, drop the pieces in the chocolate and push them under with the fork.)
Remove the dipped buttercrunch pieces one by one with the tweezers or fork, and place them, without touching each other, in the bowl of walnuts. Gently sprinkle the walnuts over the dipped buttercrunch pieces to cover them completely. Carefully remove the pieces from the bowl of walnuts, and lay them on the lined baking sheet. Repeat this procedure until all the pieces are dipped and coated.
Let the buttercrunch set completely, about 15 minutes. Enjoy! Store the buttercrunch, layered with wax paper, in an airtight container at cool room temperature for up to 2 weeks, or in the fridge for up to 1 month. (We dare you to try and hold on to it for that long.)
Excerpted from The Liddabit Sweets Candy
(Workman) by Liz Gutman and Jen King.
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