December 21, 2011

Guest Post: Who Wants Candy?

Looking for a last minute gift or tasty treat for yourself? Allow me to introduce you to our next guest writer, Martha Muzychka, and her Almond Buttercrunch. Martha is a writer and consultant living in St. John’s, Newfoundland with her husband and son. Martha and I met through our profession several years ago and I have learned much from her over the years, both about communications and craft. When not working with words, Martha likes to be elbow deep in flour and sugar, mesmerized by threads and fabric, or captivated by paper and paint.

Close to 20 years ago, when the Internet was just a fledgling community, I came across a food recipe group. People posted their favourites to share, and the focus was on the easy, the unusual, and the tasty.

One day someone posted this knock off recipe for a well known candy delight -- almond roca. I immediately latched on to it, especially since it didn’t require a candy thermometer. I have lost count how often I have made this recipe, but with few exceptions, it has always turned out well.

I used to make about 400 pieces for an annual fundraiser, but now I make just a couple of batches for my child’s school Christmas bazaar and another couple of batches to eat and share at Christmas.  Just a couple of tips: do not double the recipe; use a commercial butter, and not a local dairy butter; and do not touch the candy while it is liquid. It is extremely hot.
Almond Buttercrunch**

2 cups white sugar
1 lb butter (use Lactantia)*
1/2 cup sliced almonds***
1/2 cup chocolate chips

1. Line a baking pan with foil. Do not use an insulated pan. Use the old rimmed cookie sheets for best results.

2. In a heavy pot, melt butter with the two cups of sugar over medium to medium high heat. Heat to boiling and keep stirring the sugar butter mixture with a wooden spoon. When the mix turns golden (light tea colour) add the sliced almonds. Keep stirring until the buttercrunch turns a deep amber.

3. If it starts to smoke, turn down the heat. DO NOT TOUCH THE CANDY! It is extremely hot. When it has turned the deep amber colour (or the colour of a nice deep honey), pour the candy into the foil lined pan and spread with the wooden spoon. Do NOT lick the spoon, just sayin'.

4. After five (5) minutes, sprinkle the chocolate chips on top and let the heat melt the chocolate. Spread all over the candy. Let cool completely. Don't bother with a knife to cut this. Just snap it with your fingers into small pieces. Keep in an air tight tin.

* If you use a local butter, such as Spyglass, the candy will not work because it has a high water content and the candy will fail.

** I have made this without nuts for my son's school bazaar. One pan will make about two pounds of candy. I usually bag it up in four or six ounce lots. One year I found small take out containers on sale at Michael’s and they looked super cute hung on a tree.

***A friend with whom I shared the recipe told me she added a half cup of dried cranberries to the candy and that the results were delightful.

Thanks Martha! I can't wait to try these.

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