Sri Lankans have a real sweet tooth and milk toffee is very popular. Sumith’s was, without a doubt, the best I tasted and it should probably come with a warning on the packet that you won’t be able to stop at just one piece. I bought a couple of bags as a present for a friend in Colombo, but on the long drive back they somehow managed to disappear!
Lightly grease a 16 x 26 cm (6¼ × 10½ inch) shallow baking tin and line the base and sides with non-stick baking paper, leaving some excess paper hanging over the sides of the tin.
Heat the milk and sugar in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat, stirring continuously until it comes to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for about 30-40 minutes, or until the mixture starts to thicken and caramelise. Simmer for a further 10-20 minutes, stirring constantly. To check if the toffee is ready, use a teaspoon to pour a few drops of toffee into a cup of water and then take the toffee out and roll it between your fingers — the toffee should form a small soft ball and not stick to your fingers.
When the toffee is cooked, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour into the prepared tin, then place another piece of lightly greased baking paper on top. Allow to cool slightly (the toffee needs to be set but still slightly pliable so you can cut it).
Remove from the tin, place on a chopping board and remove the top layer of paper. Using a small, lightly greased serrated knife, cut the toffee into 3 cm (11/4 inch) squares, then leave to cool.
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