|December 27, 2010||Posted by Cheeks under Dessert, Holidays|
Well, not quite all I have to say. You see, I was entranced when this recipe from Tasty Kitchen for Almond Roca showed up in my google reader. Like all of Pioneer Woman’s posts, the recipe and full, detailed explanation were accompanied by tons of step-by-step photos of the candy at each stage of the sugar-cooking process. You see, sugar is a delicate beast. I’ll never forget a childhood experiment at lollipop making, when I burned the sugar and didn’t realize it, spend many tedius minutes filling delicate candy molds, inserting sticks, waiting for the candy to harden, and then taking that first taste…and gagging at the acrid, burnt taste that permeated them all.
Since then, I’ve be a bit afeared of making candy. Plus, I don’t have a candy thermometer, so many persnickety candies are outside my ability….and patience. Truthfully, I just am not exact enough to heat something to exactly 243 degrees over a double boiler while stirring with one hand tied behind my back, etc. It just ain’t my style.
But this, this recipe looked like something I could handle. No thermometer needed, just a lot of stirring and a careful eye for the color and texture of the boiling sugar. Other than that, it’s a darn simple recipe. Unless you count the original amounts of butter it called for. Four sticks? HELL naw. I couldn’t do it.
Looking around at similar recipes told me I didn’t have to. Anywhere from 2 to 4 sticks seemed normal, as did all sorts of other additions – brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, etc. So, I kinda just forged ahead with 2 3/4 sticks, less sugar, and less chocolate (although that was simple circumstance – I thought I had more left chips over than I did). I used slivered almonds leftover from the Cherry Clusters instead of chopping my own. And it turned out delicious. Seriously good.
The thing you should check the original recipe for is the “3 stages” the sugar goes through – from white runny to melted-cheesy to brown, caramelly runny. As soon as you see the brown caramel, take the pan off the heat, lest you candy be ruined like the lollipops of my youth. Let chocolate chips melt on top, spread it out, and sprinkle with crushed almonds. Broken into pieces, they rounded out my holiday cookie boxes – with plenty left over for furtive snacking and sneaking throughout the night. Cause Santa needs candy too!
Yield: one 11″x14″ sheet, or about 3 dozen 2″x2″ pieces. Adapted from a Tasty Kitchen recipe for Almond Roca (I just couldn’t bring myself to use a whole pound of butter….)
- 3 sticks of butter (a few Tbsp under is OK)
- 3 Tbsp water
- 1 2/3 cups white sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 1/2 cup slivered almonds
- 3/4 cup chocolate chips or chopped semi-sweet chocolate
- 1/4 cup crushed almonds
Grease a large cookie sheet (11″ by 14″, preferably with rims).
Combine the butter, sugar and water in a medium saucepan and cook on high, stirring constantly. The boiling sugar will go through 3 stages:
- White, runny and grainy
- “Cheesy”—it will look like melted white cheese and adhere in stringy clumps to the sides of the pan
- Runny, liquidy and a smooth, caramel brown color
When you get to stage 3, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the almonds until combined. Pour the mixture onto greased cookie sheet and spread it into an even layer.
Immediately sprinkle chocolate chips on top. When the chocolate begins to melt, use a spatula to spread the chocolate evenly over the entire top of the candy, then sprinkle the wet chocolate with crushed almonds.
If you want even squares, use a knife while candy is still hot to score it into squares. Otherwise, wait until the candy hardens and the chocolate sets, and then use your hands (or smash it on the counter) to break the candy into “rustic pieces.”
Keeps well in an airtight container – probably for a week or more.