So much has been going on lately that I have neglected the blog and boy have I missed this space! During my hiatus, I had a small revelation… and also my camera broke. But that’s ok because I think it helped me come to the realization that I failed at my original goal with this blog and I’m now going to steer the ship in a different direction.
One of the reasons I started blogging – besides to document and share recipes – was to try to push through my fear of imperfection. Too often, the strive for perfection (mostly in my creative endeavors but sometimes in daily tasks) is the barrier that prevents me from achieving or starting anything at all. And what I have realized, thanks to Brene Brown, is that this strive for perfectionism is not actually about trying to be perfect. It is more about presenting myself or my work in a way so that others may think it’s acceptable. Brown says, “Perfectionism is other-focused: What will they think? Perfectionism is a hustle.” My response to this condition has always been to ignore the reality and underlying fear of owning myself and my vulnerabilities, by labeling myself as a “type A creative person”. You know, like one of those creative people who can be type A… particular and perfecting in certain elements. Well, that’s complete bullshit.
This blog was one of my attempts to let loose and own my work; to actually be myself on the internet. Posting my work publicly seemed like a good step to prove to myself that I could achieve imperfection and be OK with it. It seems simple in thought, but actions proved otherwise. After starting the blog, I still felt pressure to write and edit for some other audience. (Probably the couple hundred thousand readers I have :) I spent WAY too much time perfecting each post, and each photo. I felt immense anxiety each time I hit “publish”. I wasn’t being myself and I wasn’t having fun with it. And then my camera broke and I felt SO relieved I had an excuse to stop.
Fortunately I discovered Brene Brown’s Gifts of Imperfection… and I highly recommend it. Brene talks about letting go of who you think you are supposed to be and embracing who you are. She also talks about how perfectionism hampers success – something I have always struggled with. Her book and her work as a researcher has changed my whole perspective.
This is my hobby, not anyone else’s and I’m going to enjoy it. Brown also says, “Healthy-striving is self-focused. How can I improve?” With that in mind, I’ve been really excited about making snapchats that share the process of baking. I’ve had a lot of fun making the simple snapchat videos and if I continue to get better at it, or challenge myself in the creative process, I know I will be able to look back and see self-improvement. I’m not going to stress about the process of blogging, or the fact that these photos of the toffee were taken on my iPhone. I’m in no rush to the camera store to fix my DSLR.
“Who’s to say what is ‘proper’? What if it was agreed that ‘proper’ was wearing a codfish on your head? Would you wear it?” -Alice Kingsley
To see how to make the Chocolate Almond Toffee, watch the snapchat video on my Facebook page, here.
Chocolate Almond Toffee Recipe aka Homemade Heath Bars
Recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan
You’ll need a candy thermometer for this one but it’s worth it. I got mine on a whim at Williams Sonoma but you could probably order one (cheaper!) on Amazon.
2 sticks (8 ounces; 227 grams) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces; 300 grams) granulated sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 cups (about 6 ounces; 170 grams) toasted almonds
12 ounces (340 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Flaky sea salt, for garnish
Butter a 12-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet, and line it with parchment. Butter the parchment.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Once melted, remove the pan from the heat, and, using a heat-proof spatula or a wooden spoon, stir in the sugar, corn syrup, and water. Position a candy thermometer in the pan so that the bulb doesn’t touch the bottom of the pan. Return to the stovetop and cook the mixture over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 300ºF. It takes about 10 minutes or so, depending on your pan and the heat under it. At this point the toffee will be caramel colored and bubbling. Take the pan off the heat, remove the thermometer, and stir in the salt and 1 cup of the nuts.
Quickly and cautiously pour the hot, sticky candy into the parchment-lined pan. Immediately use the back of a spoon or an offset spatula to spread the toffee over the bottom of the pan. It’s OK if you have a ragged oblong or an odd shape. Don’t feel as if you have to push the toffee all the way to the edges of the pan, but you do have to work fast because the toffee hardens quickly and you do want to be sure the toffee isn’t too thick. Spread it so it measures about half a centimeter in height. (A bit thinner than your iPhone.)
Let the candy set up for about 20-30 minutes until it hardens. Using a damp paper towel or cloth, wipe off any excess water or sugar from the candy.
Divide the chocolate in two batches so you have 6 oz each. Melt the first batch in a microwave safe bowl. Spread the chocolate evenly over the candy using a offset spatula. Sprinkle with sea salt and toasted almonds. Let sit for 5 minutes.
Cover the chocolate with parchment paper and place a cutting board or sheet pan on top. Flip the whole thing over so the other side of the candy is exposed. Repeat the steps above, melting the other batch of chocolate, spreading it on the candy and sprinkling with sea salt and almonds.
Refrigerate the candy until the chocolate is set, about 30 minutes, before breaking it up with your hands.