10 December, 2014

12 Days of Christmas, Day 10: Almond Butter Toffee

During my 34 years of life I haven't come across many things at Christmastime that are classified as "candy" that I felt like I could love.  Certainly not the more average than average peanut brittle (Ewwww....still can't believe it is the Mister's favorite.  Always tastes burned to me.) you are most likely to see broken into eleventy BILLION pieces inside a very unstable package job in your run of the mill big box store, no thanks.  I even struggle with one of my own Mum's favorite.  The holy trinity of yuk....the red, green, and white MINT flavored gumdrops.  Yikes....can't handle it.  Mint coupled with that texture sets my brain on edge.  I can't explain it because I DO, in fact, love true peppermint oil.  Fabulous stuff.  Use it in my baking and cooking quite often, but the mint extract laden gelatinous confections you find at the grocer's caked in sugar, oy.  Can't do it.  There are just a few Christmas delights that I can handle and this recipe is one of them.  Toffee.  Yep...plain, simple clean flavors not time consuming in the least and still miraculous flavor.  Almond Butter Toffee.  Spectacular....  Mmmm...  Sorry, I'm having a moment.  
*brief pause for me to gather myself please...look away from the screen if you must...*

Okay.  Whew...  Alright, here we go folks. 

Just a tip, you'll need a candy thermometer for this recipe.  Any cooking thermometer should do.  Either way, test it before you use it.  Either stick it in your mouth (remember to clean it before using it on the toffee!) and check for anything between 97-99 F.  Or boil some water and stick it in there and wait for it to hit 212 degrees.  If it is off up or down on either test...remember to add or subtract that amount of degrees off of the final temperature when making your toffee.

Almond Butter Toffee
14 T. (1 3/4 sticks) of organic unsalted butter
1 1/3 c. organic cane sugar
3 T. water
1 T. brown rice syrup
8 oz. milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 T. shortening or lard
1/2 c. almonds, toasted and finely chopped

Line a 13 x 9 inch cake pan with foil, grease it, and set it aside for later.

Melt the butter in a medium sized, heavy bottomed sauce pan with the heat set to medium.  Stir in the sugar, water, and brown rice syrup and bring the mixture to a boil.  Stir constantly until the mixture is a light caramel color and the temperature registers 310 F on your thermometer.  This could take 10-12 minutes.

***If you have an electric stove, you may have to turn your heat onto high.  Especially if you have what they call "blooming heat" action going on.  This is usually seen with glass top electric stoves.  The only way to get a constant heat is to either have TWO burners going on at high and alternate between them or keep the one on high constantly.  I had a hellova time making toffee and other confections on our glass top stove in Canada.  Now we have a gas stove which has MANY advantages for stove top cooking.  It however, is a bane for baking at times.***

Carefully, pouring AWAY from you, pour the hot toffee into the prepared pan.  Quickly giggle it gently to make sure the toffee is an even thickness from end to end in the pan.  Let it cool until it is slightly firm, but still warm, or about 5 minutes.  

In a microwave melt together your choice of chocolate with the lard or shortening.  Adding the fat keeps the melted chocolate from turning white when it hardens again.  It also helps it stay shiny.  Once the chocolate is melted and smooth, pour it out onto the toffee and immediately sprinkle with the toasted, chopped almonds.

Let the toffee cool in the pan for at least 1 hour.  Lift the candy out of the pan by the foil and carefully peel it off of the candy and throw it away.  Now you can either use your hands or a very sharp knife and break the toffee into various sizes for eating.  I used a knife.  When I did, I placed the knife over where I wanted to cut and slammed down HARD on the knife with my other hand to get a nice, clean, QUICK chop so as to not splinter the toffee.  Toffee is like glass in that respect.  If you don't do clean, quick breaks...you'll end up with a mess of tiny pieces.  

This keeps for just under a month, about 3 weeks or so in an airtight container at room temperature.  I imagine it keeps longer in the fridge.  But, I can truly tell you, this won't last more than 1 hour at a party or gathering once it is set out.  I have never had to test the time on it.

I obliterated an iceberg of this stuff in 1 minute flat.  I had to package it up so I wouldn't touch it anymore.  It is sitting over on my toaster...calling to me daily.  The Mister forgot to bring it to work with him this morning.  I'll thank him for the extra 5 lbs on my behind when Christmas rolls around.  Yay...  In the meanwhile, I'll let you know, this is absolutely the BEST toffee recipe I've ever used, it never fails (when done as directed!), and it is SO flavorful and creamy.  Just wonderful stuff that is SURE to make you the talk of the party, or house, this year!  Happy cooking!

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