Sunday, December 14, 2008

Chocolate Coated Almond Toffee

I just finished making my second batch of Chocolate Coated Almond Toffee for this year. This is my absolute favourite Christmas treat. Sometimes it even makes an appearance at other times of the year. Yup, it's that good. I usually only make one batch per Christmas but this year, after putting together a number of gift baskets to give away, I realized I just did not have enough toffee left over for myself. It is a favourite of many family members so I knew I'd need more if I wanted a chance to have any.

I am going to divulge and give up this "secret" recipe (that is not really a secret because somewhere, long ago, I found it in a recipe book or magazine somewhere - if you created this recipe, I'm sorry. I would give credit if I knew who to give credit to).

I want the world to know about this toffee! Be warned, this recipe is not for the fainthearted. It is sweet, sugary and rich. Delightful.

So here's the recipe - along with some photos of the toffee making process because I love taking pictures of food. I've added a number of comments with tips and suggestions that I have discovered after many, many times making this.

1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1/2 cup toasted almonds (I like to use slivered although I don't think that it would matter)
6 squares semi-sweet chocolate
1/3 cup toasted, finely chopped almonds

1. Cook butter, sugar, water and corn syrup in a sauce pan over medium heat until mixture boils, stirring constantly. Do not try to melt the butter first. You need to add all ingredients together and wait patiently as they melt and dissolve. If you melt the butter first, the sugar will not dissolve properly and your toffee will be granuley - I know that's not a word.

2. Boil gently, stirring often, for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown and thick. If you are not sure whether or not it's ready, put ice cold water in a cup and drop about 1 tsp of the mixture into the water. If it forms into a hard string, it is ready. I tried to take a picture to show you what this would look like but I was not very successful and I couldn't waste time fiddling with the camera since the toffee was boiling on the stove. There is a very small window of opportunity here. If you do not let the mixture thicken enough, it will not set properly. If you let it thicken to much the sugar begins to separate or something - I'm not exactly sure what goes on here - but it's not good. The toffee will end up tasting very granuley just like it does if you melt the butter first. Today I think I may have missed this window of opportunity - I don't know if the toffee is going to set because I may not have made it thick enough.

3. Remove from heat. Stir in 1/2 cup almonds.

4. Spread evenly onto well-buttered baking pan. DO NOT, and I repeat, DO NOT try to spread this on waxed paper, parchment paper or tin foil. One year I did this and I spent the entire Christmas holidays peeling waxed paper off the back of the toffee. I have experimented with many different ways of setting the toffee and the best thing is to just lather a flat surface (cookie sheet, baking pan, grill pan) with a disgusting amount of butter. Once it's set, you will need to put a knife under the toffee to loosen up one corner. Once you've done that, you should be able to peel it off the surface.

5. Let stand until almost cool. Meanwhile, melt chocolate in saucepan or microwave. Spread over toffee once it is almost cool. Sprinkle with almonds. Again, small window of opportunity for this step. I've found that if the chocolate goes on when the toffee is too hot it just melts into it. On the other hand, if the toffee is too cool the chocolate will not stick when you cut it. You can also skip this step if you'd like. Today I made the toffee without the chocolate coating for some family members who aren't chocolate lovers.

6. Let stand until chocolate is firm. I usually put it into the fridge or cool room for a few hours or overnight at this point. Chop into pieces. Enjoy!!

The finished product with chocolate.

The finished product without chocolate.

You can see what the toffee looks like after it's been chopped. It is in the left hand corner, beside the shortbread. As you may be able to see, some of the chocolate did not stick to the toffee when I cut it.

Head over to The Grocery Cart Challenge for more delicious Christmas recipes. By the way, you know I'm totally eating a chunk of this right now.

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