Candy making seems so mysterious. So difficult. I mean, baking bread? No problem. Cakes or cookies? Got that covered. And main dishes? Well, they’ve got a whole television network designed to help us figure out what to make for dinner. But candy? Scary! Seriously, they have special thermometers just for candy making! And I’ve heard stories about people who’ve had their chocolate “seize” on them in the middle of a recipe. What do you do if your chocolate “seizes?” Call 911?
For these reasons, and for the sake of my waistline, I’ve generally stayed away from candy recipes. Not to say that I don’t eat it – I eat plenty of candy, I just buy it from the store. One of my favorite confections is Almond Roca. It was a treat when I was growing up. At my house it only showed up around Christmas time, but at my grandma’s house Almond Roca could be found often. I loved unwrapping the gold foil around each individual piece, savoring the chocolate and toffee. I could make one piece last for a ridiculously long time! I loved it.
Fast forward to my early married life. Like a lot of people just starting out we weren’t exactly rich. Ok, we were poor. Happy, but poor. In my quest to save money I went to the local library and checked out the book “Tightwad Gazette” by Amy Dacyczyn. Not only did I get a lot of great tips for saving money but I found a recipe for toffee. It sounded easy and tasty and I decided to try it. Wow! I was hooked. Not only did it taste surprisingly like Almond Roca, but it called for ingredients that I most often have in my pantry. And, it was cheap! And very, very easy! Come on, I’ll show you.
1 cup chopped almonds, walnuts, pecans or whatever kind of nut you like
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (or milk chocolate chips, the better the chocolate the better the final product)
You’re going to make these in an 8 inch square pan. Make sure you butter the pan well or you’ll never get the finished product out. Sprinkle the buttered pan with the chopped nuts. Place the sugar and butter in a 1 quart saucepan. Heat until boiling, making sure you stir constantly. You want to boil it until it just darkens and starts to smoke. The recipe says 7 minutes, it usually doesn’t take quite that long for me. Immediately pour the mixture in your prepared pan and spread evenly over the nuts. I like to score it at this point so it sort of breaks into even pieces. Spread the chocolate pieces over the top of the toffee. Cove the pan with a cookie sheet or platter to help the chocolate melt. Once it is melted, spread it evenly over the toffee. You can sprinkle chopped nuts on top if desired. After it has cooled, break into pieces and serve.
If you have allergies in your house, you can make this recipe without the nuts at all, just the chocolate and toffee. I like the nuts but twist my arm and I’ll eat it without. You choose.
This candy is a perfect thing to give away as a thank you gift or favor at a wedding. I love to add it to my cookie plates or gift baskets at Christmas time. And I can tell you, no one will refuse it if you give it away as a “just because” gift! In fact, they just might thank you!