If you lived close by, we could meet at your house, pull out all the gear, arrange the ingredients and walk through this recipe together. I’d guide you every step of the way and after one try – or maybe two, because after 24 years of making this toffee I still screw it up sometimes, you’ll be master of the toffee making universe. You think I’m joking now, but when you taste this you’ll understand.
Reality is, I can’t be in your kitchen with you in person and you might not want me there anyway, so I’ve done my best to share the recipe with you here and hope you go on to winning state fairs and office cook-offs like others who have learned to make this recipe.
Here we go. Rather than re-write the whole post, I’ve simply updated my lesson from October 2006 so that the comments from the prior post will still be available.
– Anna, October 2009
Now that the holiday season is here, I feel it’s time to bump up a really good almond toffee recipe. I’ve played with the recipe over the years and feel it’s finally perfect, though you can still swap out almonds for pecans or try different brands of chocolate.
What’s funny about this recipe. Or maybe not-so-funny, but definitely interesting, is that some people can’t make this no matter how hard they try while others have made it perfectly (using the directions below) and have won state fairs. Most of the people who master this most-excellet toffee end up making it year after year because friends and family start begging for it at holidays and birthdays. I am not kidding.
Please give it a try, and don’t feel too bad if your first batch doesn’t work out. You’ll know you’ve failed if it never sets and the toffee is chewy. The toffee should be thick, yet very crispy and kind of light. And of course, it should have a very strong butter and almond flavor.
Some tips. Forget the “attach-to-the-pan” kind of candy thermometer and get a deep fry one like this. If you have a fancy digital candy thermometer, that might work too. However, part of making this recipe is watching the mercury steadily rise and I’m not sure the most recent digital thermometers let you do that. Or maybe they do. I’ve grown attached to my deep fry thermometer and like that I can rest it on the bottom of the pan.
Sliced almonds look like this.
For years, I topped the candy with Cadbury milk chocolate and it kind of became the signature flavor. However, I’ve started changing up the chocolate quite a bit, sometimes using white, dark, or both. I’ve been known to sprinkle chocolate covered espresso beans on top as well.
A good way to pack this is in little cellophane twist-tie bags or of course, Paper Mart’s (see packaging ideas section) tin-tie bags.
The finished candy should look something like this, though sometimes it’s lighter in color. I think different brands of butter yield different results, but I haven’t experimented enough to give you a definite reason. I’m usually so swamped with toffee requests I don’t have time to be that methodical, and by the time the holidays are over, I’m tired of making toffee and can’t deal with it until the next holiday season.
The recipe below is a fairly small batch. Once you master this size, you might want to double it and use a larger pot.
High altitude? Check out the note at the bottom.
Best-Ever Almond Toffee
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds, divided use
2 sticks unsalted butter — 1/2 pound (salted works too)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
8 ounces good quality dark or milk chocolate, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread about 1/2 cup of the almonds on a non-stick cookie sheet and bake for 6-8 minutes or until toasted and aromatic. Set aside.
Line a 13×9 or 15×10 inch pan with parchment paper and set next to stove.
Place butter in a heavy bottom, medium sized (3 qt) saucepan and melt over medium heat. When butter is mostly melted, stir in sugar, warm water and salt. Set a deep fry thermometer in pan, being careful that bulb is not touching bottom of pan. Cook mixture over medium heat, stirring once in a while, until mixture reaches 240 degrees F.
At 240 degrees, add the remaining 1 cup sliced almonds to sugar mixture. After adding almonds, stir constantly, keeping heat at medium, until mixture reaches 295 degrees F. If temperature is not rising at a slow and steady rate, raise heat a tiny bit until mercury starts rising. When mixture reaches 290 (make sure it’s no less than 290 and no more than 295 degrees F), immediately remove from heat and stir in baking soda. It will bubble up and lighten a bit and seem almost fluffy. Pour into parchment lined pan. The mixture should be kind of a liquid blob at hit point and if you are on track, the saucepan will be clean when you dump the blob of candy onto the parchment. Mixture will begin to firm, and butter may pool and separate. Do not pour off any excess butter. Do not panic, because if you cooked the toffee to between 290 and 295, your candy should set. Sometimes it just takes longer.
While candy is still very hot and in the process of setting, scatter chopped chocolate across top of hot and let chocolate melt into and over the candy as candy firms. Using back of a spoon, spread melted chocolate evenly over candy. Crush your toasted almonds and sprinkle over melted chocolate. Let candy cool for a 1/2 hour or more at room temperature. Transfer to refrigerator and chill for about 1 hour to firm chocolate.
When chocolate is set is set, lift candy from pan by grasping parchment. Break candy into large chunks.
High Altitude — note from Steve.
I finally had some time today to try the almond toffee recipe. I
experimented with the first batch I made and followed your recipe. I pulled
the mixture at 295 degrees and the heat carryover pushed it a bit over 300
degrees. It came out fine. It was so tasty I made another batch right away.
So if any other readers are wondering about adjustments for high altitude
for this recipe, I wouldn’t recommend any. It is an easy recipe to follow
and very delicious. I am adding this to my MUST make recipes for Christmas