While Paris is always beautiful, when winter comes, the city gets rather cold and gray – called la grisaille. In fact, it’s so cold that I refuse to go outside until spring. Believe me, all those romantic photos of Paris you see are taken during the spring and fall are very deceptive. And although it’s very pretty, it would take a mighty big levier (crowbar) to get me outdoors some of these days.
Nevertheless, it’s candy season – although isn’t it always? There’s something festival about boiling up a batch of toffee, then pouring it over toasted nuts then slathering on the chocolate which makes me feel all warm and cozy inside.
If you’ve never made candy, this one is really simple and incredibly delicious, so there’s no reason not to try a batch. You chop nuts, make a syrup, and then you pour the syrup over the nuts. Sprinkle some chocolate over it, spread it out, and finish it with more nuts. That’s it. There are no fancy techniques and the only special equipment you’ll need is a candy thermometer; they’re easily found online, and in most supermarkets.
I like to add a sprinkle of fleur de sel, French salt, which gives it a pleasant salty edge which is divine with the dark chocolate and toasty nuts (any coarse salt can be used). Although you can use chips, you can also chop up a block of dark chocolate, instead. In the end, you’ll have a scrumptious batch of chocolate almond buttercrunch toffee, which makes for great gift-giving around the holidays, or just to snack on with friends and family. Enjoy!
Chocolate-Almond Buttercrunch Toffee
- 2 cups (8 ounces, 225 g) toasted almonds or hazelnuts, chopped between 'fine' and 'coarse'
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/2 cup salted or unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- a big pinch of salt
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (45g) packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 5 ounces (140g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped, or 1 cup chocolate chips
- optional, Roasted cocoa nibs and fleur de sel or flaky sea salt
- Form half the nuts into a rectangle about 8″ x 10″ (20 x 25 cm) on an ungreased baking sheet.
- In a medium, heavy-duty saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, heat the water, butter, salt, and white and brown sugars. Cook, stirring gently if necessary, until the thermometer reads 300ºF (150ºC) degrees. Have the vanilla and baking soda handy.
- Immediately remove from heat and stir in the baking soda and vanilla.
- Quickly pour the mixture over the nuts on the baking sheet. Using a small offset spatula, or similar utensil, spread the warm mixture over the nuts. (If you want to sprinkle some cocoa nibs or some flaky sea salt over the buttercrunch mixture, do it at this point.)
- Strew the chocolate chips or pieces over the top and let stand 2 minutes, then spread the chocolate in an even layer.
- Sprinkle the remaining nuts over the chocolate and gently press them in with your hands.
- Cool completely and break into pieces to serve. Store in an airtight container, for up to ten days.
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