Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Deadline Recipes: Ammanda McCabe's English Toffee

Award winning Harlequin Historical Author Amanda McCabe shares one of her favourite recipes.

I was so excited to be scheduled on a Deadline Recipe day, because I confess snack foods are a must around here when I'm getting close to a deadline. (As I am right now, eeek! You should be glad you can't see the shameful piles of Milky Way Midnight wrappers on my desk...)

Most of the time I think of myself as a healthy eater. I eat lots of fish, spinach, green tea, Greek yogurt, I go to yoga class at least three times a week—I have to if I want to have the energy to write every day. (Not to mention if I want to keep fitting into my jeans!). But somehow when the end of a book loom close, that all goes out the window and I need Twinkies. Or Tim Tams. Or (horrors!) strawberry Pop Tarts. I think the sugar rush pushes me over the edge to the finish line—where I promptly collapse.

Somehow I even find myself writing more “food” scenes as I get closer to that deadline. Not just the hero and heroine having a little fun with some clotted cream (though there might be that!), but lavish Elizabethan banquets and lengthy Regency dinner parties. Maybe a picnic or two. In The Shy Duchess, Nicholas and Emily visit Vauxhall Gardens, and there is the infamous thin-sliced ham, dry chicken, and a strong Arrack punch that helps lead them astray... (For more historical info or excerpts you can visit my website, http://ammandamccabe.com)
Here is a favorite recipe of mine for getting past that deadline, my grandmother's English toffee! She always made it at Christmas and it's a fabulous holiday recipe, but it also has just the right amount of yummy sweetness for any writing emergency. It's also super-easy to make, which is good because I am sadly not much of a cook.

1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts are good)

1 cup butter

1 cup firm-packed brown sugar

2 chocolate bars (just plain Hershey is fine)

Sprinkle ½ cup of nuts over buttered pan

Melt butter, add the sugar and mix thoroughly

Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly for 8 to 10 minutes

Pour the mixture over the nuts in the pan

When it is set but still warm, arrange the chocolate pieces on the top. As they melt, spread the chocolate evenly over the top. Sprinkle the rest of the nuts on top.

When it's cool, break it into pieces and enjoy!

To learn more about Ammanda's books, visit her website at www.ammandamccabe.com


  1. It can't possibly be English if it has Hersheys in it! Not just because Hersheys is American but because it tastes nothing like English choc. You'd have to go for Cadburys really.

    1. oh puleeeese.
      it's just what the OPer is calling it.

    2. I like the idea of brown sugar.
      Love brown sugar and butter, like butterscoth.
      I'll do mine with the $1 Hershey's Dark Chocoate candy bar I just bought.
      And if it's alright, I think I may just omit the nuts altogether.
      I'm a rebel :)

  2. I like the recipe. I would use some other nut and dark chocolate but it sounds really good. Can you tell us what size of pan you use?

    LOL on the Cadbury-Hershey debate. I'm from Canada and I like Swiss and Italian chocolate better. We do have a local chocolate maker and he is the best ever.

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  4. This sounds wonderful, Amanda. And fattening. But wonderful just the same! Definitely a deadline emergency snack.

  5. LOL! Any chocolate at all will do--I just use Hershey's because it melts fast. :) And since it's very rich it keeps me from eating a huge amount, just enough to get past that deadline...