Old-fashioned candies, sweet and strong, are our favorites. Toffee, caramels, divinity - they all show up in our Christmas packages. Here's a new favorite with an old flavor: molasses. These are strong little candies with a heady molasses kick that tastes of burnt-sweet and sour dark sugar syrup. We added a pinch of salt and a dash of cocoa to round out the flavor.
We love how these appear hard at first - teeth crackers! - but soften into taffy as they warm in the mouth. And the best thing? If you have a candy thermometer these are so easy.
Cocoa Molasses Toffee
about 150 pieces, depending on the size you cut them
1 cup molasses
3 cups sugar
2 cups whipping cream
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
Line a 9x13" jelly-roll sheet pan (with sides) with heavy duty foil and butter generously.
Heat the molasses and sugar over high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Let it boil without stirring for about 8 minutes, or until the sugar caramelizes. This is tricky, because you can't see the color turning - the molasses is already so dark. Use a candy or deep-fry thermometer and pull it off the heat when the sugar starts to smoke or hits 350 degrees F.
Meanwhile, warm the cream over medium heat until hot but not boiling. When the sugar caramelizes, whisk in the cream and butter. Return to low heat and bring to a simmer. Clip your candy thermometer on the side of the pan and watch the temperature. You will need to boil this, relatively unsupervised, for about 45 minutes to an hour. When it hits 250 degrees F (the lower end of the hardball stage) remove from heat and immediately whisk in the cocoa and salt. Pour into the buttered pan.
When it has cooled for a couple hours, score into 1-inch pieces with a knife. Then cover lightly and put in the fridge.
After it has cooled all night, break into the scored pieces with a knife - this may take some work! Wrap in parchment paper. These can be stored almost indefinitely at room temperature.