ME: (Squealing.) Oooohh! ALTOIDS! I could make mint buttercrunch!
CASHIER AT T.J.’s: We have chocolate-covered mints, you know.
ME: Yeah, I just love the idea of using Altoids.
CASHIER: Well, we sell chocolate-covered Altoids, too. Are you sure you want these? (Points to traditional Altoids tin in my hand. Looks at me like I’m crazy.)
Curiously Strong Buttermint Crunch (PDF)
Recipe 339 of 365
I love the cool, refreshing flavor of mint, but when candy cane season hits, I run the other direction. Eeek! Red dye number 4! Here’s a festive, snowy-looking holiday gift that gets its serious minty punch from Altoids instead. I used the peppermint flavor, but I’m sure spearmint would also be delicious.
TIME: 30 minutes active time
MAKES: about 3 dozen pieces
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon Karo syrup
2 tablespoons water
1 pound high-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 (1.76 ounce) tin peppermint Altoids
Line a baking sheet with a silicon baking mat (or greased foil) and set aside.
Combine the butter, sugar, Karo syrup, and water in a medium non-reactive (not aluminum) saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the temperature reaches 290 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. (It will take 10 to 15 minutes, but this is not the time to wander around the kitchen, as overcooking the caramel will cause it to separate. Be patient.)
At 290 degrees, carefully pour the toffee mixture onto the lined baking sheet, tipping the sheet and/or spreading the mixture with a small offset spatula until the mixture makes a roughly 12” by 15” rectangle. Let cool completely, about 30 minutes.
When cool, melt the chocolate: Place it in a saucepan over very low heat, and stir constantly until almost all the chunks are melted. Remove from heat and stir until smooth. Set aside.
Pulverize the Altoids in a food processor until very fine, like powdered sugar. (This will send up some Altoid dust; try covering your machine with a tea towel.)
Spread half the chocolate mixture in an even layer over the cooled toffee, and sprinkle evenly with half the Altoids. Cool until the chocolate is dry and completely firm (this may take a few hours), then carefully flip the toffee. Rewarm the chocolate over low heat, if necessary, then repeat the spreading process with the remaining chocolate and sprinkle the remaining Altoids on top. Let cool completely, then break into bite-sized chunks. Store in a tightly sealed container up to 3 weeks.