Every December I become a cookie baker, but my friends Cara S. and Michelle K. are the candy makers. When Cara visits, she brings me a care package of confectionary delights. And Michelle, who taught Cara about candy making, rivals Willy Wanka and the Chocolate Factory. When I stop by Michelle's house, she sends me into the candy room, with a festive paper bag in hand, to pick out whatever I want. Deciding is a hard job, but someone has to do it. Everything from caramel-nut turtles and peppermint bark to chocolate covered nuts and chocolate chip cookies wrapped around miniature, peanut butter cups are homemade with dark, milk or white chocolate. Leave it to faithful friends like me to take some of Michelle's inventory off her hands. It's a waist expanding experience, but my taste buds couldn't be happier. Below is a recipe for old fashioned Almond Roca. I hope the candy makers check in.
4 sticks butter
4 tablespoons water
2 cups sugar
2 cups slivered or chopped almonds
1 cup chocolate chips
½ cup finely chopped almonds for sprinkling
Makes about 36 servings.
1) Before you start, grease an 18” x 13” pan and put it aside.
2) Combine the butter, water and sugar, one at a time, in a saucepan. The mixture will be runny, “cheesy” and runny/smooth. Cook on a high flame, stirring constantly through the three stages. The runny/smooth stage will turn a caramel brown color. It will be very hot, so be careful.
3) Remove the caramel mixture from the heat, and stir in the chopped almonds. Combine well.
4) Next spread the caramel-almond “toffee” on the greased cookie sheet.
5) Sprinkle the toffee with chocolate chips. After the chocolate melts, spread it across the top.
6) And finally, sprinkle the top with additional chopped almonds.
While the candy is still warm and soft, you can score the top to make it break evenly after it cools, or simply wait to break it up into rustic pieces. Waiting for the candy to cool is the hardest part of all.
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