Happy Easter, peeps! (Get it? I’m sorry, that was terrible.) Many of us are snacking on egg-shaped treats, or marshmallow-y chicks, or carrot cake on this spring occasion, but for Baked Sunday Mornings, we made Pecan & Almond Chocolate Toffee from BAKED: New Frontiers in Baking, and I’m glad we did! In fact, it also works for Passover, since there’s no flour involved (though I personally prefer the matzah buttercrunch version in that case). This is a super simple dessert to whip up, or it’s more accurate to say it should be, if your candy thermometer feels like cooperating!
The toffee is made a little differently than other toffee I’ve made before, but it’s delicious and comes together very quickly, no tempering required (though I probably would temper the chocolate in the future personally). I partially melted butter, then added sugar and a little water, and stirred all of that together until it was smooth, then brought it to a boil. This buttery, bubbly brew needs to come to a temperature of 300°F, at which point it will start to turn golden brown. This is where things went a little awry on my first attempt. My digital candy thermometer has settings for both candy and oil. It started blinking on and off and essentially became a tiny flailing computer on a stick. Eventually I managed to get a read of 300°F after about 10 minutes, so I turned off the heat and proceeded with the recipe.
At that point I stirred in toasted chopped pecans, then poured the hot mixture into my waiting cake pan… but it didn’t look right. Some of the butter was separated and the mixture looked very greasy. I decided that something had gone wrong, and I didn’t want to continue and risk wasting a lot of chocolate and almonds, so I decided to abort. Still, it tasted good and the texture firmed up perfectly… it was just slathered in butter that had not emulsified with the rest of the mixture. I think two things happened: 1) I may not have stirred the butter and sugar together well enough in the beginning, and 2) the thermometer temp was wrong. It’s supposed to take about 15 minutes, and I pulled the pot off the heat after about 10 minutes. I suspect that the thermometer got confused between the oil and candy settings because the melted butter is more like oil than candy, and it didn’t know which setting was correct, so it flipped out!
I tried the recipe a second time, hoping the thermometer problem was a freak incident, but unfortunately it happened again. Luckily, I found an old-school candy thermometer kickin around in a kitchen drawer, and that guided me safely to 300°F without incident, which did indeed take about 15 minutes. This time the caramel was fully blended and just the right consistency when I poured it into the pan. I next scattered chopped dark and milk chocolate pieces on top and waited a few minutes for them to melt before spreading and swirling them together with an offset spatula. The last step is sprinkling chopped almonds on top. The recipe says to grind the almonds into a fine powder; this did not sound at all appetizing to me as a toffee topping. Instead, I used toasted and roughly chopped almonds for a more desirable flavor and texture.
After a rest in the freezer to firm up, the toffee was ready to break into shards. It turned out both beautiful and delicious– I was quite happy with my homemade candy! My only small qualm is that the chocolate on top set kind of softish. I would’ve liked the snap of tempered chocolate here, so I may make that adjustment next time.
My tasters loved this toffee, and I would definitely make it again; it would be especially nice for a winter holiday treat bag or dessert table in my opinion. You can find the recipe for Pecan & Almond Chocolate Toffee at Baked Sunday Mornings, and take a look at the other bakers’ candy while you’re there! 🙂
© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2019.