Happy holidays from Australia! I am busy enjoying sun, sand, and surf before I head back to winter for ski season. More updates when I get back. =) But even though though I’m on the opposite side of the world, I made sure to schedule this recipe to share with all of you. This is something my family (and many family friends) make for Christmas every year and I definitely wanted to share it. Although my family has reduced how much we make each year, we still make several batches to share and keep in the freezer. It is a Top Secret recipe that my mom shares with everyone.
If you’ve never had homemade almond roca, you are seriously missing out. I encourage you to make some, pronto. I actually don’t like almonds that much and I can’t get enough of it. Sweet and crunchy, it is delightful straight out of the freezer, or at room temp (if you can wait that long.) It makes a beautiful “appetizer” to have out for parties and a fabulous gift. As a kid I always gave some to my teachers, and had several that said the bag never even made it home.
Although it’s a little time-consuming, and kind of messy, it’s an easy gift for teachers, neighbors, extended family, or just to have on hand in case you forgot someone. Even better, it keeps well in the freezer for a few months so you (or the recipient) can set it aside if there’s a sugar overload or more time-sensitive items to be eaten. Fair warning though, as easy as it is, it’s a bit easy to screw up too; make sure you read the notes at the bottom to help you be successful.
Buttery toffee, crunchy almonds, and sweet chocolate melt in your mouth in perfect harmony.
I dare you to eat just one.
Makes 1 cookie sheet
2 cups almonds
1 pound good quality salted butter
1 cup sugar
2 T. water
1 (10 oz) package chocolate chips
- Coarsely chop 1 cup of the almonds; set aside.
- Finely chop the remaining cup of almonds; set aside.
- Line a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with aluminum foil and lightly oil with vegetable or canola oil.
- In a small-medium, heavy, saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter, sugar and water.
- Heat candy to 250 degrees on a candy thermometer, stirring often. It will look kind of marshmallowy. (That’s definitely a technical term.)
- Add in the cup of coarsely chopped almonds, and heat to 300 degrees, stirring constantly. (It should be very pale brown and thick but also oily looking.)
- Pour immediately onto prepared cookie sheet and spread out as thinly as possible without creating holes.
- Melt chocolate chips in microwave for one minute and stir. Repeat until chocolate is completely melted and stir until smooth.
- Thinly spread candy with chocolate and sprinkle with about half of the finely chopped nuts.
- Transfer entire cookie sheet to freezer for 45 minutes, or until candy is hard.
- Remove cookie sheet from freezer, flip over the candy (don’t worry about breaking it), and let it warm up for about 15 minutes.
- Melt the remaining chocolate, and repeat the coating on the back. It is easiest to do this is small sections as the chocolate hardens quickly.
- Return the cookie sheet to the freezer until chocolate is firm, break the candy into bite-sized pieces and store in resealable bags, or put some in a cellophane candy bag and pass out to adoring fans.
1 You must use good quality butter like Tillamook or Darigold; store brands produce inconsistent results and might fail completely. And make sure it’s salted butter!
2 My mom uses a large pullout cutting board. I like to use a lipped cookie sheet because it keeps it a little more contained. Just make sure you use something firm, mobile, and that will fit in your freezer (or outside, if it’s cold enough.) It’s also a good idea to lay down newspaper and/or a silicon trivet to protect your counter from the hot candy (and excess oil runoff if you’re not using something with a rim.)
3 It is best to use a long-handled wooden spoon for stirring, as it doesn’t get hot or damage the pan during your million hours (30 minutes) of stirring.
4 Make sure your candy thermometer gets deep into the mixture; if you use too large a pan you are likely to burn the candy because the thermometer isn’t registering the correct temperature. My best luck has been with a 4-quart Dutch oven.
5 I buy chocolate chips from Costco so I never actually measure how much I use, but I melt about a cup at a time. I like to spread it quite thin, but that’s definitely up to you. I always use semi-sweet (because I buy in bulk) but dark chocolate would be delicious too if you prefer.
6 Even if you’re making a lot of batches, don’t try to cook more than one at a time; it doesn’t seem to go very well. You’ll be much more successful using an assembly line, ideally with extra hands. Pour some eggnog and make it a family or friend activity.
7 If your batches are prone to separation, make sure your heat is not too high! Error on the side of lower, it will take longer but it’s less prone to separating. If the separation occurs when you add the almonds, try adding them in slowly instead of all at once.
8 If you can’t make it work, comment here or email me and I’ll do my best to help you get it right next time. =)