This is decidedly extravagant… of course! Mostly because the high cost of pine nuts makes them a bit of a luxury ingredient that is not commonly featured in a candy (in the states, anyway). In his cookbook, Dali goes completely over the top, with no consideration to health and wellness. Although… pine nuts definitely hold there own in the nutrition department. They are rich in healthy fats and full of antioxidants. All the sugar in this recipe – not so much.
Toffee with Pine Cones comes from Salvador Dali’s cookbook, that’s right – cookbook, Les Diners de Gala. Surreal meets decadent cuisine. And while animals are not spared in this cookbook, Toffee with Pine Cones is a tasty elevated candy that even vegans can get behind, with the right animal-free sugar and butter of course.
Check out more images from the book here, at Fine Dining Lovers.
To follow is Dali’s recipe, straight from the book. It is advisable to do it his way… to save your fingers from sugar burns.
‘Love the Punch from Punch and Judy inspired imagery.
For me, it was worth burned fingers to get in there and play a little. These little candy bites were easily shaped into little pine cone scales… just for fun.
When the sugar had just reached a beautiful golden color, I pulled it from the heat, mixed in lovely little pine nuts, turned it onto a heat-safe dish covered with parchment and started working with it.
You will have to work very quickly! It hardens in no time. In fact, breaking up this recipe into smaller batches is not a bad idea if you are going to make shapes.
This is a half batch. It is easier to manage than a full batch and more batches can be made as needed.
From Dali’s book: In a saucepan combine sugar and water and cook over medium flame. Be careful; you have to watch the process as the sugar is turning to toffee (or caramel, however you want to call it). It can burn very fast.
My notes: So, yeah… I am not a candy maker. I have not yet mastered the perfect caramel sauce. But if I can do this, anybody can.
This process made me question the ratios in this recipe. Perhaps in the hands of a skilled candy chef this would not happen. But as my sugar-water cooks, the water evaporates and it gets clumpy, like slushy ice. No worries! It is only sugar! Sugar melts. Keep a mug of water handy and stir some in to melt away crystals.
After your sugar melts, let it keep cooking. If you need to add water again at any point, you certainly can, but it will also slow down browning so avoid being too heavy handed.
From Dali’s book: When it turns brown and has started to smell like something burnt, remove quickly from the fire. Add the tablespoon of butter, which will melt right away. You don’t have to stir.
My notes. The part about watching it so it does not burn… no kidding! I like to pull it off the heat when it just begins to get a little golden. Residual heat will continue the cooking process so it will cook a little more. Once the pan is off heat, I like to go ahead and stir in my butter (or vegan butter) and pine nuts.
From Dali’s book: Grease the slab of marble with oil; pour the toffee onto it. Using a spatula, or wooden spoon, work it, combining it with the pine nuts. Soon it will be cool enough for you to use your hands. Watch it; don’t let it harden too much. Squeeze in the palm of your hand and form little sausages which you will cut to candy size. Allow to thoroughly cool.
My notes: Be sure that you have your oiled marble ready to go. Or in my case, a parchment lined cookie sheet. Whatever surface you use, it must be heat-resistant. Pour the toffee onto your surface and begin working it with a spatula, pulling in and folding over the sides. When you can handle it without burning yourself, go ahead and roll it into a “sausage”.
My notes: It will begin to harden VERY quickly and you will not be able to do a thing with it. Be prepared to start cutting pieces right away. Use whatever works for you – a knife, a pizza cutter, a bench scraper…
This first batch of mine was not too pretty… but it was yummy!!!
Here are some really cute little pieces poured into a heat-safe candy mold right from the pan.
Letting it cool just a bit and then trying to make little shapes on tiny plastic spoons does not work. But somehow I think that Dali would still approve.
And, here are a few that I hand-shaped for fun. This batch got a little less cook time. While a dark rich color is beautiful, I personally enjoy the texture of a lighter toffee.
Presentation and Play!
By pooling little puddles of hot toffee onto your oiled marble slab or cookie sheet, an homage to Dali’s melting clocks can be easily made and added to a presentation. Use any (high heat-safe) candy molds you like to create a variety of shapes. This is all from the same recipe, just made in different batches in order to vary the color.
Keep your pieces small or flat so they will be easy to bite. However you roll, shape, and cut these guys, they are delicious and bring and unexpected flavor to the table.
Salvador Dali’s Toffee with Pine Cones
Straight from his book Les Diners de Gala, this sweet rich candy is a must for a festive occasion or an art-themed soirée. Not a bad idea for teaching art appreciation either!
- 2 ¼ (lbs) sugar (about 4 1/2 cups)
- 1 cup water
- 1 t butter
- 1 slab of marble
- 1 tablespoon of oil
- 7 oz of pine nuts (pignolia)
In a saucepan combine sugar and water and cook over medium flame. Be careful; you have to watch the process as the sugar is turning to toffee (or caramel, however you want to call it). It can burn very fast.
When it turns brown and has started to smell like something burnt, remove quickly from the fire. Add the tablespoon of butter, which will melt right away. You don’t have to stir. (Note: You do not absolutely have to buy a slab of marble for this as suggested by Dali, but definately use a heat-resistant surface.)
Grease the slab of marble with oil; pour the toffee onto it. Using a spatula, or wooden spoon, work it, combining it with the pine nuts.
Soon it will be cool enough for you to use your hands. Watch it; don’t let it harden too much.
Squeeze in the palm of your hand and form little sausages which you will cut to candy size. Allow to thoroughly cool.
Note: Toffee vs Caramel – Caramel is cooked at a lower temperature to keep it chewy. Toffee is generally cooked at a higher temperature and becomes crunchy when cooled. This method gives you crunch.
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