Image credit: Sean Christopher via Wikipedia
As the festive season draws near, the demand for chocolates, candies, and desserts are steadily climbing. The orders for pumpkin spiced lattes are already piling up at favorite coffee haunts. We are gearing up for some festive cooking. It is time to pull out the original pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, and Christmas cookie recipes from the attic. Try to decipher what our grandmothers and their mothers had scribbled along the margins of the notebooks. And it is time for those dry runs, which always seem to add a pound or two to the scales.
This year is going to be a little different. You should be able to make and enjoy healthy recipes that please your sweet tooth as well as your scales. Proclaiming your love for candies and desserts should not always mean giving up fitness plans. Sometimes, healthy treats can come in the form of delicious candies!
Almond toffees are the best part about winters and Christmas. If you have not given so much thought about them before, you might do so from now on since they are healthy, packed with protein and they are even gluten-free. It is the perfect gift for children, health-conscious neighbors, and office colleagues. This year, it will be even more special because you can make them at home. You can pack them interestingly in colored cellophane and ribbons to turn each into a tine Christmas hamper.
How to make your very own Christmas almond toffee
What is Christmas without candy? That is a rhetorical question we do not want you to answer. The world without candies would be a bleak place. The thought of it makes us shudder, so without much ado let’s get to the 8-ingredient almond toffee recipe with you to liven up your holidays.
Here are a few things we want you to know before you begin –
- We want you to be committed. You will have to stir for about 45 minutes, straight. So take a long sip of your Gatorade and put that apron on. Oh! Do not drink a lot of it since you won’t get time to go to the loo for the next hour or so.
- For the first recipe, we do not want you to make any alterations or substitutions. Try the exact measurements, buy the same ingredients and keep time accurately. You will get your time to be creative.
- Unleash your creativity with colorful toppings, and sprinkles. You can also try a variety of chocolates. You can try dark chocolate for a richer and fuller feel. However, most children like a sweeter taste. So, if you are going to make a batch for the young ones, stick with milk chocolate or semi-sweet variants.
- Always use a thermometer to test the readiness of the toffee. There are other ways like dropping a little in a cup of cold water to see if the toffee hardens and cracks. However, for the beginners, there is no substitution for the thermometer.
This is what you will need to make the first batch of the most awesome almond toffee you will ever have –
- 2 and a half cups of granulated sugar
- 2 cups of 1 pound butter
- A pinch of sea salt
- 2 cups of blanched, slivered, skinless almonds
- 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract (do not use the cheaper chemical versions)
- 2 cups of chocolate chips (pick your variety)
Optional: Roasted slivered almonds, pistachios, sprinkles and coconut flakes for top garnish.
Here’s our first recipe for the gluten-free almond toffee –
- Take a large baking pan and a spatula. Grease them with unsalted butter. Set it aside. Always keep the pans and pots ready before you start this simple recipe.
- Take a large thick bottomed pan. Melt two sticks of butter (1 pound) in the pan. Add water, sugar, corn syrup and sea salt. Always heat the pan over medium heat until it melts the butter.
- Keep stirring while the sugar and butter melt. You do not want the mixture to burn at the bottom.
- Add the slivered almonds (no skin) to the mix and keep stirring. You will need to stir for about 45 minutes with the spatula, as the mixture thickens and bubbles.
- Once the color of the mixture starts changing to a darker brown check the temperature with the thermometer. The temperature should be around 270 Fahrenheit. At this stage, the almonds should also turn a darker brown. It will give the candy a robust and fuller flavor.
- When the candy mixture reaches between 265 and 270 Fahrenheit add vanilla extract. Mix the extract thoroughly with the candy.
- Dump the mix into the greased baking tray. Be quick about it. You do not want your candy to harden on the pan. Scraping off hardened candy is challenging and reheating it will burn the bottom, rendering the candy mix useless. Do not let it sit on the oven, keep your greased baking pan handy while stirring the mix.
- Sprinkle the chocolate chips of your choice. Easy to melt chocolate chips are our choice since they spread smoothly on the candy layer.
- Spread it with the buttered spatula. Use a non-stick, flat and flexible spatula for the ease of even spreading.
- Leave it out in the room temperature for about 24 hours. Sometimes, leaving it overnight also helps. The time it will take will depend on the weather and the temperature inside your home. Do not refrigerate the warm mixture.
Once the toffee sets, you can break it into pieces and enjoy. Do not worry about the shape of the pieces. The somewhat irregular shapes and sizes are the beauty of homemade almond toffee.
You can always jazz up the toffees and add a Christmassy feel to them by using multiple sprinkles of your choice. You can always add more almonds after the ninth step or add chocolate sprinkles or use a dusting of finely ground sugar to give your toffees a distinctly personal touch. These are perfect welcome gifts to guests on Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.