In our monthly column with Archana Pidathala, author of the beloved cookbook Five Morsels of Love, we explore the art of getting your child excited about the sights and sounds of a kitchen.
November was birthday month around here, and as per tradition, we asked Arjun to make a wish list. One of the first things he added to the list was my friend Madhur’s much-loved homemade jaggery toffee. Madhur has been experimenting with ‘healthy’ variations of toffee for a while now, and has arrived at this glorious piece of perfection after several trials. To make the toffee, you need all of three ingredients — jaggery, butter and water. And if you needed further convincing, it takes less than 30 minutes from start to finish, and is the easiest thing to make. Madhur not only generously shared her recipe, but also joined Arjun and me in the kitchen with her daughter to make a batch of toffees, one lovely November evening. The children were as excited to make the toffees, as they were to later wrap them up in festive colours.
If you are an eighties kid like me, these toffees will take you straight back to those Lacto King days, to a time when the very definition of happiness was a piece of jaw-sticking, long lasting candy. Recreating that moment in time, but this time knowing exactly what I was putting in my body, was magical for me.
These glossy sweet toffees have a deep caramel flavour with a subtle hint of bitterness and are wide open to improvisation. Flavour the candy with vanilla or cinnamon if you wish. For a savoury kick add a generous pinch of ground cumin or ground ginger. For an adult toffee treat add a bit of filter coffee decoction while the toffee mixture is bubbling away or top with sea salt or desiccated coconut. You could experiment with other ‘healthier’ white sugar substitutes like palm or coconut sugar. Topped with sprinkles or crushed nuts these toffees could easily become the pièce de résistance at birthday parties or school fêtes. And with Christmas around the corner, a jar of handmade toffees will make for a perfect, personalised present. Something your child and you can take pride and joy in making and in giving.
MADHUR’S JAGGERY TOFFEE
(Makes 20 mini toffees)
25g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
a pinch of salt
optional toppings : sprinkles, crushed nuts, sea salt, desiccated coconut
Silicone molds (easily available on amazon; we used a mold with flowers and seashells)
Take all the ingredients in a small deep pan and mix till well combined.
Insert a candy thermometer into the pan and heat on the lowest possible flame.
The jaggery will start caramelizing and the mixture will begin to bubble and thicken.
Let it boil without stirring until the candy thermometer reaches 135 °C, about 17-18 minutes.
Don’t let it cook beyond this point as the caramel will burn and turn bitter.
Carefully pour the toffee mixture into greased silicone molds. If using an additional topping, sprinkle immediately after pouring so they can stick to the toffee.
Allow to set. Once the toffee is fully hardened gently pop out of the molds.
Wrap in good quality butter paper and foil or get as creative as you want.
Store in a well-sealed container and use within in a week as otherwise the toffee will slowly hydrate and become sticky with time.
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