Making Candy is Easier Than You Think….
I know I am still going down the road to Christmas when it isn’t even Thanksgiving yet, but no worries, I will be posting some Thanksgiving worthy recipes very soon. I just happen to be the type of person that likes to plan ahead, so it is a wonder that I’m not posting spring or summer recipes already! 😉 I am a list maker, and the sticky note queen. My lists have lists, and are followed up by sticky notes all over the house, inside my binders, and in my purse. That is why I am already helping everyone right along with their Christmas treat list, I mean isn’t that one of the biggest parts of holiday excitement, the food?
While this candy may not be sugar-free (I am still working on that) it is reduced in calories, not to mention you can pronounce all the ingredients. (The average piece of toffee is 140 calories. These are 80-100 calories depending on how you break the candy up.) Not to mention it is cheaper than buying Almond Roca from the store! I have been terrified to try and make candy because all of the research I have done says it is so tricky. You need a candy thermometer, or you need to know stages and to drop it in cold water, be careful not to let it burn, don’t blink! While the last two are very true, you don’t need a candy thermometer, and you don’t need to do a cold water test. I’ve learned that a big part of cooking is visual and smell. You can tell at what stage just about any food is at by looking, and smelling. (Sometimes you have to do the tap test, but I wouldn’t recommend that with 300’ f candy.)
I wish that I had step by step pictures to post of the cooking process, but I was by myself and you don’t want to step away for a second because it is very easy to burn. I have burned caramel before and it is a smell that you can’t get out of the house, and you can’t save it once it reaches that point. While mixing the sugar, butter, and water over MEDIUM HEAT (Don’t get all crazy and try to do it on high) you have to constantly stir once everything starts to bubble. At that point it can go from Soft Ball stage to Hard Crack stage in a matter of seconds. I was testing the mixture with cold water throughout the process, but save yourself the trouble. For this recipe you want Hard Crack stage and that is when the toffee starts pulling away from the sides of the sauce pan and sticking to the spoon. The first thing that came to mind when it started happening was the cotton candy makers you see at the carnivals. There are strands of candy sticking from the sides of the pan to candy that is winding around the spoon as you stir. That is when you know you are done and need to pull it off the heat.
Aside from not burning the toffee there really isn’t a whole lot of expertise that goes into making this candy. Of course anyone you share it with will be impressed by your skills, but you don’t have to tell them how easy it is. I can tell you that you need to make sure that your almonds are chopped ahead of time because once you are done cooking the toffee it begins to set. As soon as you pull it off the heat you need to stir in the almonds (I like them cut in halves and thirds) and spread it into a well-greased pan. (I just used non-stick cooking spray) It sets up quickly in the fridge so while it is cooling you can melt your chocolate and fine chop the few almonds that are left (I used approximately 4), pull it out of the fridge, spread the chocolate over the top, sprinkle with the rest of the almonds, finish chilling, and you are done. Just break the toffee into pieces, sit back, relax, and enjoy!
Cocoa Almond Toffee
By Angie Gouchenour
12 cocoa almonds ( ½ ounce)
¼ cup light butter (Half of a stick)
¼ cup white granulate sugar
1 Tablespoon water
1/8 cup mini chocolate chips
Spray a container with non-stick cooking spray (I took foil and made a little tray by wrapping it around the outside of a sandwich bag box.)
Roughly chop 8 almonds
In a small sauce pan combine sugar, butter, and water
On medium heat bring to a boil stirring occasionally
Once the mixture begins to boil stir constantly until it starts to stick to the spoon and pull away from the sides of the sauce pan (See description above)
After all of the candy mixture has made a ball around the spoon and there are only threads clinging to the sauce pan immediately remove from the heat
Stir in coarsely chopped almonds and pour into prepared dish
Spread out the toffee as evenly as possible, place in the refrigerator
In a microwave safe bowl melt chocolate chips in the microwave (30 second spurts. 60 seconds is usually enough) The chocolate chips may not be completely melted, but stir until they are to avoid burning
Finely chop the rest of the almonds
Remove toffee from the refrigerator and spread chocolate over the top, sprinkle with almonds, pat the almonds gently with your hand to set them in the chocolate
Place chocolate covered toffee back in the fridge until set
Break into pieces and enjoy!
100 per piece (If making 8 pieces)
80 per piece (if making 10 pieces)