Today is a lazy Saturday. The sky swells with clouds, the clouds billow with expectant rain, the wind whistles through the leaves, my nerves shake as I deal with my four-year-old whining about everything, and the veins in my temples pulsate as I notice that this kid has made massive dents in our best piece of furniture and has put chisel marks in the oak cabinets in our dining room. Thus, I look forward to cocktail hour, dinner, heroin, and maybe some dessert.
When I started writing this blog a few months ago, I made a very breakable vow to never write about desserts or cookies or cakes or cupcakes or anything that someone with actual artistic ability makes. I’m a guy. I can frost a cake out of the box, I’ve even made a pie or two (and “seen my head (grown slightly bald), brought in upon a platter”), but the end result is a sheer utilitarian dessert: it will taste awesome, but it will look like I made it on the 405 during rush hour. No, I will leave dessert to those who make it their life’s work, who make beautiful treats for people like me to buy.
But then I came across this recipe in a totally bitchin’ cookbook. Some years ago, one of my best friends, Tree, who then lived in Birmingham, Alabama, bought me a book called Tables of Content (you can order it on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Tables-Content-Junior-League-Birmingham/dp/0977468801). It is a compilation of recipes from members of the Junior League of Birmingham, Alabama, so you know it has to be damn good. I am probably the only person in California with this cookbook, and I am lucky to have found many great recipes in it. Its recipes are 100% from southern women, so you can imagine its beauty.
I often tell my students when I give them an outline to write an essay that it’s “idiot-proof,” meaning that they can’t not do it correctly if they follow the directions (whether they follow the directions is another story). This is an example of an idiot-proof recipe that’s sure to please. It’s perfect for a man to make because, well, a lot of us are idiots, to be sure.
Toffee for Idiots, or Men’s Toffee
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tsp. salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup more of chopped pecans
Makin’ It (You won’t believe this. I didn’t until I made it.):
In a 9″ buttered (or greased) round baking dish, sprinkle the 3/4 cup of pecans on the bottom evenly.
Use some of the butter to grease the sides of a 2 to 2 1/2 quart glass (pyrex) bowl. Put the remaining butter in the bowl. Add the sugar, the water, and the salt. Don’t stir it. Microwave this on high for 9 to 11 minutes (it took me 9) or until the mixture just begins to turn light brown.
Using care and oven mitts, pour this mixture over the pecans in the baking dish. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over it and spread them evenly with a knife. Top with a 1/2 cup of pecans, pressing them into it if you need to. Chill this in the fridge until it’s firm, about an hour. Seriously be careful with the dish that was in the microwave because it will scorch you if you’re not careful.
After it’s chilled, you should get this:
Break it into pieces in a manly fashion and enjoy.
Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.
p.s. This is my made-up title. In the book, it’s called “Our Favorite Toffee.”