"The toffee became a staple on subsequent hops and was often used to barter for other necessities (matches, chew, alcohol, cold hamburgers and fries...) From California to Canada, my toffee was shared with hobos, railroad dicks, engineers, linemen, and just lain folk who wanted to chat about where I'd been. Some of those folks would invite me into their homes and let me work for them in exchange for food, cash, and a warm place to stay awhile. Invariably, their wives or daughters would ask for the recipe." -
This excerpt was written by a man named Geoff who travelled the United States by train or any other means available back when the term Hobo was used for this kind of life.
OK - let's acknowledge "hobo" is not a PC term any longer. But here's the deal, the recipe comes from Geoff and he refers to himself as a hobo - so in my book, a hobo he will be called!
When my son was in first grade, his teacher's threw a BIG cookie exchange for the class holiday party. I was room mom that year and I collected all of the recipes and made a big ole recipe/photo album/scrapbook for her. I have had this recipe for
Toffee (Hobo Style) ever since.
A recipe with a story - the best kind!
So, it is not my original recipe (and it sounds very similar to most of the toffee recipes I have seen) and I don't know Geoff - another mom contributed this to our cookie exchange. I do love the story that accompanies the recipe - be sure to see his quote at the end!
Toffee (Hobo Style)
I assure you you can do this - I shy away from candy thermometers and such but this was pretty simple and oh so good!
1 Pound Butter
2 Cups Sugar
2 Cups Nuts (walnuts or almonds, coarsely chopped)
Approx. 1 cup walnuts of almond, finely chopped
Approximately 1 cup semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
1. Coarse chop EXACLTY 2 cups of nuts and place in a bowl.
2. Measure EXACTLY 2 cups of sugar and place in bowl with the nuts.
3. Finely chop 1 cup nuts, set aside.
4. Line a (rimmed) cookie sheet with aluminum foil.
5. Melt 1 pound of butter in a sauce pan on medium-low heat.
6. Once the butter is melted, add the sugar and nut mixture.
7. Turn the heat to high and, with a metal spoon, stirring the mixture constantly for 8-9 minutes.*
8. When the mixture turns a dark caramel color and begins to "smoke" (let is smoke for 15-30 seconds) it is ready to pour onto the foil lined cookie sheet. Spread it evenly.*
NOTES: The first time I made it, I over cooked it...it still tasted good but you could see the butter "residue." I never saw "smoke" and kept stirring. Geoff recommends using a timer. The last batch I made I used a timer and set it for 8 minutes 30 seconds. At 8 minutes, I turned the heat off, gave it a stir, and then poured.
9. Once the mixture is spread evenly, sprinkle the chocolate chips all over and let them melt on the hot mixture for about 1 minute. Spread the melted chocolate with a spatula.
10. Sprinkle the finely chopped nuts on top and press down lightly. You may notice I was being lazy - Imean efficient...I wanted a few different types of toffee but did not want to make full recipes of each...so I pressed all three variations into one tray.
11. Allow to cool completely before breaking it into pieces.
Toffee (Hobo Style) #2
- Add one tablespoon real vanilla extract to the butter when melting.
- Replace the semi-sweet or milk chocolate with DARK chocolate (YUM!)
- Toast the almonds in a toaster oven for about 5 minutes
Toffee (Hobo Style)#3 TOPPINGS!
Either with the finely chopped nuts or in lieu of, add:
- Mini marshmallows and crushed graham crackers.
- Chopped dried cranberries and almonds
- Crushed candy cane
"Enjoy the toffee.
Let it take you back to those sweet,
sweet times when you didn't have a care in the world.
Don't share it with just anybody, it's too good for that.
Give it to those who are friendly,
who smile, look you in the eye, shake your hand firmly
or tell you a good joke...you know just regular folks." - Geoff