Salted Chocolate Almond Toffee

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday full of family, good food, treats, and relaxation.  We spent Christmas eve and Christmas day with my family relaxing, eating way too much of this and this, and drinking champagne. It was wonderful. Now that the holidays are over, there are a slew of healthy recipes hitting the blog world as people gear up to get in shape after the New Year.  I will have plenty of those recipes soon but first I want to share a candy recipe.  Yup. Sorry. If you’re looking for something not made of chocolate, sugar, and butter – you may be out of luck today.

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I recently purchased a candy thermometer because I was determined to start experimenting with candy making.  I’ve always been intimidated by the candy making process – thermometers, molten hot sugar, and various firm, soft, and hard ball stages seemed like pretty scary stuff.   After my big (well, $15 big) purchase, I decided to start small and make a simple salted chocolate almond toffee using a recipe from David Lebovitz.

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I cautiously attached my thermometer to my pot and got to work, being utterly intimidated the entire time.  Things went smoothly during the cooking process and it was much easier than expected – there was no stirring, nothing burned, and I didn’t catch anything on fire.  I poured the toffee, spread the chocolate, sprinkled the almonds and anxiously waited for it to set.  I nervously tested it a half hour later – it had set up like a dream.  I was feeling a bit more confident after my successful batch of toffee and decided to give it another go. Five batches of toffee later – I’m feeling confident, excited, and a little hyper from all the sugar. So if you’re intimidated by candy making, give this recipe a try.  You might just turn into a candy maker.

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Salted Chocolate Almond Toffee

Yields: 1 8X8 batch of toffee

Barely adapted from: David Lebovitz

*special equipment: candy thermometer

1 stick of butter

¼ cup brown sugar, lightly packed

1 cup white granulated sugar

2 Tbsp. water

¼ tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips

½ cup slivered almonds

a dusting of sel gris or other high quality finishing salt

1. Attach your candy thermometer to a medium, heavy-bottomed pot.  You want a pot that cooks evenly.

2. Line a baking sheet (8x8 or larger) with lightly greased (use  vegetable oil or cooking spray) parchment paper.  Do not overgrease or you may have some slightly greasy toffee.  Set aside, near your pot.

3. Add butter, sugars, and water to the pot. At this time, go ahead and measure out your baking soda and vanilla and set them in separate small bowls near your pot.

4. Heat over steady medium heat.  Try not to stir! Just swirl the pot a bit every few minutes to keep things moving. Stirring encourages the sugar crystals to rejoin which makes clumps, not smooth toffee.  It can also break the butter. So really, don’t stir.

5.  As the mix heats up, very carefully, give it a small quick stir with a  silicon whisk if you are noticing hot spots.  If you don’t have hot spots, just let it bubble away.

6.  Once your candy thermometer reads 300F, shut off the heat and quickly and very, very carefully stir in the baking soda and vanilla extract.  It will steam and bubble violently when you add it.

7.  Pour the toffee onto your lined baking sheet.  You shouldn’t need to spread it around but if you do, quickly even out your toffee with a silicon spatula.

8.  Pour chocolate chips over hot toffee and let them sit for 2 minutes.  Use an offset spatula or rubber spatula to spread the chocolate evenly over the surface of the toffee.

9.  Sprinkle a flurry of salt over the chocolate.  You want a very, very light dusting.

10.  Add the almonds to the chocolate.  You can leave them in whole slivers or crush them up a bit.  I simply gave them a quick crush in my hand before I sprinkled them on so I had some larger whole pieces and some smaller pieces.

11.  Let cool completely on your counter or in your fridge if you’re in a hurry and break into several pieces using a sharp knife. Store in an airtight container for up to 10 days.