Monday, December 18, 2006

Crunch of the gods

This weekend, in addition to seeing to my hens' comfort by constructing them a hoop house for the winter, I made two Christmas treats to share with friends, Almond Toffee, and Spicy Ginger Cookies. Both are fantastic, and not terribly difficult.

Almond Toffee
2 1/2 c whole almonds, toasted, coarsely chopped

1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar

2 T light corn syrup
1/2 t sea salt
1 t vanilla
8 oz. Ghiradelli semisweet chocolate chips

Special equipment: candy or digital thermometer

Finely chop 1/2 cup of the almonds and reserve.

Lightly oil a 15” x 10” jelly roll pan (I used non-stick foil).

In a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan combine butter, corn syrup and sugar. Bring mixture to a boil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally as sugar dissolves. Boil, stirring occasionally, until thermometer registers 300°F, or until the mixture is the color of dark peanut butter. Quickly stir in almonds and immediately pour mixture into baking pan. With a spatula quickly spread toffee in an even layer.

Let mixture stand 1 minute (it will still be very hot) and sprinkle evenly with chocolate chips. Let chips melt and with spatula spread chocolate evenly over toffee. Quickly sprinkle reserved finely chopped almonds evenly over
chocolate. Allow to cool, then chill toffee until chocolate is firm, at least 2 hours, and up to 2 weeks, covering tightly after 2 hours. Break toffee into bite-size pieces and keep chilled to prevent chocolate from melting.

Makes about 2 1/2 pounds.

WOW, was this good!! We took some to friends Karen and Bill last night and it rapidly disappeared. I was a bit trepidatious after hearing toffee horror stories --rock hard burnt sugar permanently bonded to the pan, or greasy, soft candy mush oozing out of the box, but I used a low heat setting and was all prepared in advance, and it went really well. I plan to try making it with tempered chocolate next time to avoid the need to keep it chilled.

Photos of the remains and more on the ginger cookies later, time to head to work.

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