Yes, I stole this recipe. The things I'll do for a list of ingredients...
When I was in college, one of my roommates made toffee for everyone at Christmas. Delicious, crunchy, addicting toffee. Of course, I had to get the recipe. Turned out, my roommate was sworn to secrecy by the person who gave the recipe to her. I can't remember exactly why this was, but she was sticking to her promise. After some begging on my part, she told me that she couldn't give the recipe to me, but she also couldn't stop me from finding the recipe that just so happened to be written on a card that was kept between the pages of a certain cookbook. So I found it and copied it down, thus "stealing" the recipe. The only guilt I've felt since is from eating waaaay too much of this toffee whenever I make it.
Anyway, this toffee isn't difficult to make -- you can make a batch in less than twenty minutes. Personally, I think it holds its own against the store bought toffee, even Almond Roca. For that reason, I think this toffee makes for a great gift for family, friends, and neighbors. That is, if you can stop yourself from eating all of it before you give it away...
To make homemade toffee, you'll need:
3 cups almonds, finely chopped (I measured 3 cups before I chopped them)
One 7 oz. chocolate bar (or as many bars that add up to 7 or so ounces. More about the chocolate in a moment...)
2 sticks of butter (Don't even try using margarine. It's got to be butter.)
1 cup of sugar
3 tsp. water
In years past, I've used the 7 oz. Hershey chocolate bar that the recipe calls for. However, my friend from France has since made me prejudiced against the Hershey milk chocolate bar -- my friend is very open-minded about American food, but she says that those milk chocolate bars "aren't chocolate." So, I splurged this year and bought a different brand. It came in 4 oz bars, so I just used two for this recipe. People have loved the toffee when I've made it with Hershey's, but I will tell you that my batch this year is even better. Take it for what it's worth.
There are packaged almonds at the store already chopped, but I find it more cost-effective to buy the almonds in bulk and chop them myself. This step is the most time consuming -- once you've got the amonds chopped, the rest goes by quickly. I suggest starting with slivered almonds - they're peeled and half-chopped for you. I'd also suggest using a sharper knife than the one my son was using.
You want the almonds to be finely chopped, but they don't have be uniformly sized, as you can see above. Most of the nuts are small, but there are still a few bigger ones, too. Variety is the spice of life, after all.
Put 1/2 of the chopped almonds in two pie pans or in one pizza pan. Break up 1/2 of the chocolate into pieces and place the chunks on top of the almonds.
Before you start making the syrup, be sure to have the rest of the chocolate broken into pieces. You have to move kind of quickly for the last few steps, so it's good to have it ready.
In a saucepan, combine butter, sugar, and water. Cook on high, stirring constantly. Cook until the mixture thickens into a syrup and becomes just a little darker than the color of a brown paper bag (see picture below for the side-by-side with the brown paper bag). It took me about five minutes to get to that point.
Here's the part where you have to move kind of quickly, which explains the blurry pictures.
Pour the syrup over the nuts and chocolate. As you're pouring, try to pour it evenly since it's a little hard to spread.
The syrup hardens pretty quickly, so hurry and scatter the chocolate chunks over the top of the syrup in your pan(s). After a few seconds, the chocolate will start to melt. Once the chocolate is getting gooey, start moving the chunks around to spread the chocolate over the surface. After you've spread the chocolate, sprinkle the rest of the almonds on top.
Once you've topped the chocolate with the almonds, the toffee and chocolate need to cool and harden. I put it in the freezer. I think this helps make it more brittle, which makes the last step easier.
After it has cooled and it's completely hardened (which takes an hour or so in the freezer), break into pieces. From there you can either indulge or package it up and give it away. I think I'll be doing a little bit of both this year.