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Guys. I made these six times. SIX times. Just so they could be perfect! Is that commitment to caramel? I also now know the absolute best way to clean a saucepan after making toffee… bonus points? As I’ve mentioned several times before, I love using seasonal produce, and living in a country where the supermarkets are always full to the brim of what is in season is such a privilege. So let’s go ahead and make blood orange toffees!
Currently, we are enjoying citrus season, so I am basically obsessed with blood oranges. Can we take a moment to appreciate just how awesome these fruits are? These oranges are only available for a short amount of time each year, so we must snap them up while we can. On the outside they look like regular oranges, but the insides are the most vibrant shades of red, orange and purple you can imagine. I bought a huge bag of these from my local supermarket and as I cut through each one, it was like a guessing game of what colour the next one will be! Some were bright orange with little flecks of red throughout, some a deep purple. The taste is just like a fresh orange, but perhaps a little sweeter, with a definite sharp tang. If you are able to get hold of a bag of blood oranges and have never tried them before, definitely give them a try! Whatever juice was not used in these toffees, we drank at breakfast.
Making caramel is not something to be feared. In fact one of the most important instructions is DON’T stir it… aka… less work (win!). We’ve made caramel before in this chocolate praline cake, and this is basically the same as that, with the addition of blood orange juice and zest, and butter to take it from caramel, to toffee! These are the kind of toffees your grandma would always have in her handbag (think Werther’s Originals) except they are trashed up with sea salt and awesome orange-ness, which obviously takes them to another level!
The first couple of batches I made, I replaced the water in the recipe entirely with orange juice. However, this yielded a slightly weird, burnt taste, which is definitely not what I was going for – I wanted blood orange, not burnt orange. In the end, I settled for a mix of water and blood orange juice, so that the toffees have a hint of flavour from the juice, but also that signature buttery toffee taste. The addition of the orange zest is what gives the most kick of orange flavour. When the zest first hits the hot toffee in the pan… oof that is an orange hit!
I found that the mini silicone cupcake moulds I have were perfect for making these individual sweets, but you could use any kind of mould you like, or even pour the toffee onto a sheet of parchment paper and then break it up like bark once it has set. If you use any kind of silicone mould, you do not need to grease it with anything, the toffee will easily pop out once it has set. If you use a non stick metal mould, I would suggest a fine coating of cooking spray before you pour in the caramel to avoid sticking. Once sprinkled with a few flakes of sea salt and some dried cranberries, these little toffees would be the perfect gift!
Caramel top tips:
Be prepared! Have everything you need ready before you start. Ingredients measured, pan prepared, toppings ready for topping. You definitely do not want to be measuring things out while you need to be watching sugar boil.
No stirring once the sugar has dissolved… put the spoon down.
Trust the boiling. You want the sugar/water mixture to be bubbling quite vigorously. We need the sugar to get HOT in order to brown properly. I don’t own a candy thermometer so I just have to trust my eyes when it comes to this, and on my stove on a medium/high heat, it takes approximately 10 minutes from beginning to end. This is longer than most people expect, so don’t panic if you are standing there and it still looks white. Just keep going and you will start to see the edges going brown. Swirl the pan to distribute this. The sugar is done when the whole pan (liquid and bubbles) has turned a medium amber colour.
Once the sugar starts to turn, it turns quickly, so keep an eye on it. As mentioned above, swirl the pan to keep it mixing.
Use a whisk to mix in the butter and orange zest at the end – the mixture will bubble up and spit a bit at first, so be careful. As soon as everything is combined and the mixture is settled, pour it into whatever moulds you are using. The toffee will begin to set as soon as it comes off the heat so you do need to work quite quickly.
If you want to wrap the toffees, use parchment or wax paper. I just cut squares out and twisted the ends to keep it secure. Pretty, huh?
Salted Blood Orange Toffees
120g Caster Sugar
30g Butter (melted)
2 Tsp Fresh Blood Orange Juice
Zest of 1 Blood Orange
1/4 Tsp Sea Salt
Flaked Sea Salt
1. Get everthing you need prepared before you start. Measure out the water, orange juice and sugar, zest the orange and get the butter melted. Prepare whatever mould or baking sheet you are going to use to set the toffee in, and prepare any toppings so they are close by the mould.
2. In a saucepan or skillet, add the sugar, water and blood orange juice. Place on a medium to high heat and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. After this, no more stirring, but have a whisk nearby for when you add the butter later.
3. Keep the sugar mixture boiling until you have a medium amber coloured mixture. Swirl the pan throughout the cooking process to keep things evenly distributed. As soon as you have reached the medium brown colour, take the pan off the head and immediately add the melted butter, orange zest and 1/4 tsp of salt.
4. Pour the toffee mixture straight into whatever mould you are using. If the mould is silicone, there is no need to line it with anything, but if it is a non-stick metal tray coat with cooking spray before you start.
5. Sprinkle the toppings on top of the toffees and leave to set for 30 minutes.
6. Pop the hard toffees out of the mould once they are fully cold and serve!
Wrap the toffees in wax or parchment paper to store.
Sugar boiling is extremely hot – I would not recommend making this recipe with children around.