Chocolate, Almond and Hazelnut Toffee: Holiday Treats!

Chocolate, Almond and Hazelnut Toffee
When it comes to making candy, I’m typically a disaster. Case in point: my most recent attempt to make homemade marshmallows. I read and read about how delightfully easy they are to make, and how incomparable they are to store-bought, but after trying my hand at them myself, I simply failed. Overpowered by marshmallow fluff in a kitchen mess. Enter: toffee. My re-introduction to candy.

I made this toffee a few weeks ago as an experiment. I gathered up all of the nuts in my house (almonds and hazelnuts), as well as the dark chocolate in my cabinet, and realized that I had all of the ingredients for a recipe from my Tartine cookbook.

Chocolate, Almond and Hazelnut Toffee

I made a few tweaks–adding in shelled, toasted hazelnuts, and leaving the nuts chopped a bit rougher than the original recipe called for. Looking back, I may have even sprinkled the top of the toffee with some sea salt for a nice unexpected touch. This toffee has been acquainted with several of my friends over the course of several dinner parties, and it’s still going strong. Next stop: Ohio.

The great thing about making nibbles like toffee is that they last–for several weeks in an airtight container. More, it’s fun to make–albeit, somewhat messy. I’m sure some/many of you are already far along in your holiday baking, but if you need more inspiration, check out the holiday baking inspiration guide that I pulled together for you. And if you need to get your hands into a project to let off steam from work, channel your energies towards making something nice for someone, or just because you’re feeling a sugar kick–give this toffee a try.

Chocolate, Almond and Hazelnut Toffee

Chocolate, Almond and Hazelnut Toffee
*adapted from the Tartine cookbook

2 cups of mixed almonds and hazelnuts
1 3/4 cup of sugar
3 tablespoons of water
1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter
1 teaspoon of blackstrap molasses
1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
5 ounces of dark chocolate, chopped roughly

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and spread the nuts on a large baking sheet.
2. Toast the nuts for about 10 minutes, until golden.
3. Once they’re cool enough to touch, use a kitchen towel to rub off the skins of the hazelnuts, then chop all of the nuts roughly and set aside.
4. Line a 13 by 18 inch baking sheet with parchment paper and spread 3/4 of the nuts on the bottom.
5. Now make the butter toffee–make sure to measure out all of your ingredients ahead and have a candy thermometer at hand. In a medium pot, combine the sugar, butter, water, molasses and salt, cooking it over medium heat and occasionally stirring until the thermometer registers 295 degrees F (roughly 7 minutes).
6. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla, then the baking soda (the mixture will bubble, so be careful). Mix well.
7. Pour the liquid toffee over the nuts, using an oiled silicone spatula to spread evenly.
8. After a few minutes, sprinkle the chocolate evenly atop the toffee, letting it melt. Use a spatula to spread it more evenly after a few minutes. Next, sprinkle the leftover nuts on top and let the toffee cool until hard.
9. Once hard, break the toffee up into pieces. Keep in an airtight container for up to a month.

Musical Pairings: MillionYoung – Sunndreamm EP + Chocolate, Almond and Hazelnut Toffee

The recipe Kasey posted today on eating/sf is chocolate, almond and hazelnut toffee. And it is delicious, crisp and each bite is guaranteed to put you in your “happy place.” It took will power, but we put a little aside to bring with us to Ohio because we know it’ll be the most popular new Christmas snack to hit Beavercreek, Ohio (at least with my dad). So that meant I needed to look for something newly popular for today’s pairing. And ‘chillwave’ seems to be the most popular new musical genre of Fall/Winter 2009, and so that is where I looked to seek my inspiration. Chillwave, if you haven’t been following along to the genre-name-game at home, is the label that has been slapped on a huge number of artists who record reverb-drenched, shoe-gazey, bedroom recorded electro-pop (think bands like Neon Indian, Memory Tapes and Washed Out). Does it sound like it might be a fad? Maybe. Is the backlash less than 2 months away? Definitely. But that isn’t to suggest there isn’t a lot of talent swimming around with that label attached to it. Take, for example, Coral Springs, Florida’s Mike Diaz who releases music under the moniker MillionYoung. Diaz just released a free EP titled SunnDreamm that is as ethereal, sun-drenched and feel-good as the title would suggest. Head to Musical Pairings to read the rest of the review. –Matthew

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This entry was posted in almonds, candy, chocolate, food music blog, hazelnuts, holidays, Musical Pairings, toffee. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Chocolate, Almond and Hazelnut Toffee: Holiday Treats!

  1. Megan Gordon says:

    I'm always blown away when you bake from the Tartine cookbook because, as I've told you, I don't. These looks awesome! Gotta love toffee (and hazelnuts…mmm)

  2. Kasey says:

    Megan- ha. I only selectively bake from the Tartine cookbook, but the more I bake from it, the more I realize that there are quite a number of approachable recipes in it! Love love love this toffee. Trying to expand my candy repertoire….

  3. Stephanie says:

    Kase! I'm a little intimidated by this recipe. I wanted to make it for a friend tonight, but here are my hurdles: a) toasting hazelnuts and removing the skins sounds like something I'll mess upb) I don't have a candy thermometerc) I don't have molassesI suppose I can easily rectify c and probably deal with a), but is there any substitute for a candy thermometer? Can I just do it by time/sight?Steph

  4. Kasey says:

    Steph: re: hazelnuts–actually, you'd be amazed how easily the skin slips off the hazelnuts once they're toasted. Re: the candy thermometer, I think you could eyeball it–you probably know what caramel looks like before it starts to burn–try to watch it carefully (between 5-9 minutes, you should be able to judge that it is done). The thermometer is useful because it allows you to know when you need to take it off the stove. You could also probably get away with skipping the molasses. I'd recommend the thermometer because it's easy to mess up, and making candy can be tricky! You could get a decent candy thermometer for under $10–and it's useful for a number of things (including making homemade yogurt :))

  5. Stephanie says:

    ok, Kase: this recipe was nearly a disaster for me. Specifically, the lack of candy thermometer. Betty Crocker has some nifty tips about how to determine if candy is ready without one, so based on her tricks and your encouragement, I decided to try it. And failed utterly. I think I overcooked the toffee, so that when I poured it, it was very sugary and airy- not at all the consistency of toffee. But the next night, I tried again, candy thermometer in hand, and it turned out much better. (Except this time, in my excitement, I forgot to add the vanilla and baking soda. it still turned out ok, but I'm sure the third try will be a charm!)

  6. Kasey says:

    Steph, Perseverance is key (and so is a candy thermometer)! Sorry to hear about your toffee gone wrong, but glad you tried again and made it work!

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