Yum. Really; buttery, sweet, salty, crunchy, chocolately goodness all wrapped up in a jar and given to my friends and family (not to mention the amount that we consumed here). And while I know that I am way too late for you to give this to your friends and family this (now past) holiday season, it would still make a lovely Valentine’s Day treat for that someone special. Plus, I wanted to get this one down for my own sake because I royally failed the first two times out on this one and I want to remember what to do (and not to do) the next time I make this. What not to do: DON’T use unsalted butter. I don’t know why, but when I used unsalted butter (two different times, two different pounds of it) the oil separated out of the toffee half way through cooking it. When I switched to salted butter, it worked like a dream. That said, I did a little research and there was some suggestion that if the butter was previously frozen (mine was, as I have had unsalted butter go bad on me more than once), it can change the properties of the butter and cause wacky reactions. However, I do not plan on risking unsalted butter again, as I got excellent results with the salted. What to do: use a candy thermometer. I think it’s just easier with one; this recipe is pretty simple and you probably could just gauge it by colour, but you can buy a candy thermometer for $5 at Superstore now, so why not just do it; if you wreck this you will have lost at least $5 worth of ingredients (twice, if you are me. Are you sensing my bitterness yet?). If you are a candy novice, this is one of the simpler ones I’ve made, so as long as your butter is salted and not previously frozen, you should be good to practice on this one.
3 cups (1 1/2 lbs) salted butter
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 – 2 cups chocolate chips (I bought good Bernard Callebaut dark chocolate, which I thought was worth it for this one, but chips are definitely better than chunks here because they melt more evenly, so go with what you can find)
1 1/2 – 2 cups almonds (obviously any other nut will do, I just like almonds)
Coarse sea salt to taste
1. Roast your almonds. I did this on a baking sheet at about 400 for 10 -15 minutes, pulling the sheet out once in a while to shake it. They should be lightly browned and smell delicious. Let cool a little and then either pulse a few times in the food processor or chop by hand. I used the food processor and went with all different sizes of chunks.
2. Line two rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a large, heavy bottomed pot, start to melt the butter. Once is has begun to melt, add the sugar. Stir almost constantly until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved into it.
3. At this point, grab your candy thermometer and hook it on the pot, making sure it is not touching the bottom (that will mess with your reading). Keep stirring. As the toffee gets hotter, it will darken and thicken. Keep it at a light boil until you get to 294 degrees F.
4. Remove from heat and immediately pour into cookie sheets. Mine actually fit perfectly into one cookie sheet and one round pizza pan, so it may not entirely fill the second sheet, but it doesn’t matter, you just don’t want it over flowing anywhere. Sprinkle liberally with the chocolate chips, then wait a few minutes.
5. Once you can see that the chocolate has started to melt, use a spatula to spread the chocolate evenly across the top. Finally, top with the almonds and salt to taste (I found I liked mine better with lots of salt; it offsets the sweet very nicely). Use your finger tips to lightly press the almonds and salt into the chocolate. Let cool until chocolate is solid again, then break into pieces and serve or package as you will.
PS If you wanted to start with a smaller batch, the butter and sugar is a one to one ratio, so you could easily reduce the recipe without wrecking anything.