Sunday, 14 July 2013

Macadamia Toffee Crisps and Sweet Swap 2013

Picture this ....


Sea views


5 o'clock - well, it is somewhere!

Wine in hand


July 1

A casual question

That casual question from husband John - in the space of a nano second - threw my relaxed state into into one of panic and called me to urgent action!

"That Sweet Swap blog thing - when are you meant to post off those sweets?" he enquired, breaking into my relaxed revere.

"Oh, next week - July 3rd - there's plenty of time," I replied, quietly pleased at his interest.

A little silence ensued.

"July 3rd," he repeated.

"Yes, we'll be home by then," I answered, as I drank in the view and took another sip of wine.

I will leave it for you to imagine my horror and dismay when he gently reminded me that we had decided to stay on for an extra few days in our top secret holiday destination - OK, beautiful unspoilt Coffin Bay - and that we were watching the sun set on July 1st!

New to blogging I had been excited to join my first blogging event - the 2013 Sweet Swap and had eagerly awaited the email notifying me of the three bloggers to whom I would send my package of sweets. I had tossed around idea after idea about what I would send - narrowing my list down as I considered current food trends, cooking techniques, how well the items would travel,  presentation and packaging and most important of all - taste.

Checking the blogs of the soon-to-be recipients of my sweets - Love Swah, Muppys and The Hangry Bitch - I was immediately impressed by the youth, sophistication, skills, experience and talents of each. How humble I felt in comparison. Where, I wondered, are all the comfort cooking baby boomer bloggers who managed to turn out those fabulous dinner parties of the 70's and 80's - surely I'm not the only one!

Back to the deck.... 

My immediate dilemma was that I had two days in which to have my sweets in the post. Plenty of time you would think! Well, life wasn't meant to be easy!

I found myself
  • an 8 hour drive from my kitchen
  • with access to only the basic equipment of a holiday apartment
  • the nearest supermarket was a 90 kilometre round trip
  • we were planning to return home on the very day the sweets were to be posted.
I was doomed! My first blogger event and I'd messed it up.

How appreciative I was when my ever resourceful husband rescued me! "Let's pack tonight," he suggested. "We'll head home tomorrow."

Indescribable relief swept over me. I can cook my sweet treats on Wednesday morning and package and post them later in the day. I am saved!

More culling of my list occurs on the long trip home. With limited time now I can't afford to do anything complex or to make any mistakes - and one of my recipients is allergic to almonds. The pressure is on!

I finally settle on an old favourite Toffee Almond Crisps, and decide to substitute macadamia nuts for the almonds. They are now Macadamia Toffee Crisps! The recipe is from the book that taught me to cook many of my favourite things - the original Australian Women's Weekly Cooking Class Cookbook.  I treasure my blotched, tatty copy. It's destined, I think, to become a coveted family heirloom!

Home Sweet Home....

Wednesday morning I'm out of bed early! I assemble the ingredients to make three batches of my Macadamia Toffee Crisps. Fuelled by numerous cups of coffee the kitchen becomes a hot house of activity. I'm beginning to feel how I imagine contestants in my favourite cooking shows must feel when under the pump. Hubby wisely decides to make a gracious exit and leave me to it!

I haven't made these crisps in years and so am excited when the first batch turns out perfectly - just like in the book! And I've remembered to take some photographs. Two ticks so far.

I confidently get the second batch going - but disaster ensues. Impatience has resulted in my failing to ensure that the sugar was completely dissolved before bringing the syrup to the boil. As a result the toffee tastes great but is crystallised.

I catch my breath and take extra care with the third batch.

By now time is racing away. I turn my attention to the packaging and ready the boxes. My hands are a bit trembly as I finally lower the crisps into the boxes and tie them up. Standing back, I'm quietly pleased with the way they look, and silently hope that my recipients will enjoy opening them - and enjoy eating the contents. 

Later there is a wonderful feeling of satisfaction as I hand the Express Post packages across the counter at the Post Office and send those Macadamia Toffee Crisps on their way. 'Travel well' is my final silent wish as I bid them farewell and send them off to far distant kitchens.

Checking the postbox I am excited to have received three intriguing parcels.

Gasps of delight!                                                                                                                              
Opening the packages reveals that I have been sent

They are all sweet mouthfuls of gorgeousness - I am transported to sugar fuelled heaven! 
Oh my! I can highly recommend these sweet treats!

I can't wait to try each recipe and so eagerly check out these bloggers and their blogs. Again I find that these fabulous cooks are clever, articulate and young! Hello, Gen H - hippies of the 70's! Is there anyone out there!

I had cause later on to reflect as I enjoyed yet another cup of coffee - and one more of each of the sweet treats I'd been sent - that participating in my first Sweet Swap had been much, much more fun - and more of an adventure - than I had anticipated it would be! 

Next year, I promised myself, I'll be prepared - Scout's Honour!

And so to the recipe.....

Macadamia Toffee Crisps


90gms butter
1 cup castor sugar
1/2 cup water
185gms chopped, toasted macadamia nuts
125gms chocolate


Cover a large oven tray with baking paper. Mark with 5cm circles.

Chop the nuts and lightly toast in a moderate oven for 5 minutes. Watch closely to ensure the nuts do not burn.

Place the sugar, water and butter in a saucepan. Stir the mixture over low heat - but do not allow to boil - until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Proceed with caution as failure to ensure this step is completed satisfactorily will result in your crisps turning into a crystallised mess (see above)! Test by examining the mixture on the back of a spoon - it should be completely smooth and without even the slightest sign of graininess - which indicates undissolved sugar.

When the sugar is completely dissolved boil without stirring over high heat for 8 minutes or until a pleasing  dark golden brown. Remove the mixture from the heat and immediately add the nuts.
Stir only to combine the mixture. Too much stirring will also result in a sugary mixture.

Working quickly place spoonfuls of mixture into the circles and press out with the back of a spoon. Leave to cool. Makes about 18 - 20 crisps.

 Melt the chocolate and cool slightly. Turn the crisps over and spread the flat side with chocolate. Allow the chocolate to set before serving with a coffee.

You will have earned it!  Enjoy!

My thanks go to Amanda at Chew Town and Sara at Belly Rumbles for hosting this event. 

I, for one, can't wait for Sweet Swap 2014!


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