I have recently discovered (and become totally addicted to) the marvelous Marcona almond, the favorite of Spanish chefs and tapas-lovers. I nibble them with wine before dinner; I add them to salads; I serve them with cheese; and I stick them into every dessert I can – sometimes all in one day! Marconas are tender and toasty, never hard and dry like some supermarket almonds: you can buy them online at www.tienda.com.
This combination of almonds with crunchy toffee and bittersweet chocolate is fantastic. You’ll be amazed that you made it – and so will any friends that you give it to! It makes a great holiday gift.
Makes About 1 Pound
2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
12 ounces (3 sticks) salted butter, cut into chunks
¼ cup cocoa powder, preferably Droste or Valrhona
1 cup whole blanched almonds, preferably Marcona (see above), toasted and roughly chopped
Line a sheet pan with sides with a nonstick baking mat, or oil it well with vegetable oil (or use a heavyweight nonstick sheet pan).
Pour the sugar into the center of a saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer. Pour 1/4 cup water around the sugar and swirl to moisten it. Add the corn syrup and bring to a boil. Add the butter and boil until the mixture reaches 300 degrees. Turn off the heat and whisk in the cocoa , then stir in the nuts. Quickly pour the mixture onto the center of the prepared pan and let it spread out – it may not reach the sides of the pan. Set aside to cool at room temperature until hard. Using your hands (I wear gloves to avoid fingerprints), pry the toffee out of the pan and break into large pieces. Store in an airtight container.*
* The toffee will keep well for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container.