It seems that I inherited my sweet tooth from my Dad. Like me, he favors quick breads, cookies, and candies, and, like me, he also loves chocolate. When I saw this recipe for Chocolate Almond Toffee Bars, I knew it was the perfect treat to make for him. I got my opportunity last weekend when we had a family gathering. I made sure there would be some extra pieces for my Dad to take home. What I didn’t expect was that he would have some competition for the leftovers…from my nephew, who proclaimed that all the leftover bars were his. I had to be the peacemaker and divide up the remaining pieces equally. It appears that a sweet tooth runs in my family. Note to self: Make a double batch for Christmas morning so Dad and little nephew could have as much as they want.
I could see why there was almost a fight about these toffee bars. They are surprisingly easy to make, look beautiful, and taste fantastic! They are rich and buttery, and the layer of chocolate makes them absolutely irresistible! The toffee is crunchy and slightly chewy. The toasted almonds add even more crunch. These bars have a touch of salt that complements the sweetness of the toffee and chocolate. No wonder these toffee bars were a big hit with my family!
These are also a wonderful treat to make for those who follow a gluten-free diet.
Chocolate Almond Toffee Bars
Yields 1 1/2 to 2 pounds
8 ounces whole unblanched almonds
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup water or rum (I used rum)
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules (optional)
8 ounces (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
Spread almonds on a baking sheet lined with Silpat (silicone baking mat) and toast for about 10-12 minutes, turning almonds halfway through baking time. Cool and chop coarsely. Set aside.
Spray both sides of the offset spatula with vegetable oil spray. Set aside.
To make the toffee, place the sugar, corn syrup, vanilla extract, and water or rum in a small deep saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Let boil for 3 minutes, and then cover with foil and boil 5 minutes longer.
Attach a candy thermometer on the side of the pan with the sliding clip. For an accurate reading, make sure that the thermometer is touching the sugar mixture, and not sitting on the bottom of the pan. Add the pieces of butter, a few pieces at a time, and continue cooking, uncovered, over medium heat until temperature reaches 300 degrees F on a candy thermometer, about 20 – 30 minutes. (The batch I made took about 21 minutes. The original recipe approximates cooking time at 30 minutes.) Remove the pan from heat and immediately add the salt, baking soda, and 1 cup of chopped nuts. Stir with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula until well combined.
Pour the toffee mixture on the baking pan and, using the oiled offset spatula, spread the mixture out, making a block about 10×13 inches. Work fast as the toffee will thicken very quickly.
While the toffee mixture is cooling, melt the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl placed over simmering water. When almost melted, turn off heat and let the chocolate continue to melt, stirring occasionally. Keep warm.
When the block of toffee has set and cooled completely, transfer it to a flat work surface. Pour the melted chocolate over the toffee, and spread with an offset spatula to cover the entire surface. Sprinkle with the remaining chopped nuts before the chocolate sets. If the chocolate takes a long time to harden, refrigerate for about 10 minutes to set the chocolate.
Return the block of toffee to the work surface and cut into pieces, with a serrated knife.
Adapted from Wolfgang Puck, courtesy of Food Network.
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