Almond Toffee with Chocolate Topping
First, you need about 15 uninterrupted minutes. Don't answer the phone; don't answer the door. And you need a good-sized (3-1/2 to 4-quart) heavy saucepan -- the heavier the better -- and a stout wooden spoon. Ideally, you should have an 11-inch by 17-inch jellyroll pan with a 1-inch lip on it. If you don't have that, then two flat cookie sheets will do. Line the pan or cookie sheets with aluminum foil, letting the excess hang over the edges, and set them on a heatproof surface. You do not, by the way, need a candy thermometer.
- Line a rimmed cookie sheet or large pan with foil. Set aside.
- Put the butter and sugar in the saucepan and, over high heat, stir while the butter melts. Stir constantly while sugar dissolves, and let mixture come to a boil. When a uniform boil is reached, set your timer for 5 minutes. Keep stirring.
- At the 5-minute mark, the mixture will start to look light and creamy. Add the almonds all at once, and start stirring them in. The almonds will cause the mixture to cool, so it will immediately get thick and some of the butter will separate, and you may think you've made some terrible error, but persevere. Just keep stirring with that stout wooden spoon.
- When the mixture comes to a boil, again set your timer for 5 minutes. However, you don't really need the timer because -- and this is the best part -- the almonds will tell you when the toffee is ready. That's right.
- As you continue to stir, the mixture will really start to come together. The butter that separated out will get stirred back in, and the mixture will begin to darken as the sugar caramelizes. At or around the 5-minute mark, you will begin to hear the almonds popping. The heat causes them to expand, which causes a low, dull popping sound. And then you know that your toffee is ready!
- Quickly remove pan from the heat, and pour the toffee out evenly onto the foil-lined pan or cookie sheet. Be very careful; the mixture is extremely hot. If you are topping the toffee with a chocolate layer, wait 5 or 10 minutes when the toffee has begun to set, and sprinkle the chocolate chips over the hot surface. They will quickly melt and become spreadable. Spread the chocolate in an even layer over the toffee. When toffee has cooled completely, it can be broken apart. Store in layers separated by waxed paper in an airtight container.
- Makes about 4 pounds.
- Some people feel that adding chocolate to this toffee is like gilding the lily. True, this candy is delicious with or without the chocolate. But you can decide for yourself how you want it.