Almond Roca was one of our special gifts to dad every year when I was growing up. It wasn't available so readily as it is nowadays so it was a real treat for everyone. These days, pecans are my nut of choice. If you're a Roca or English Toffee fan, you must try this out. Toffee is one of the quickest, easiest candies to make. Yes, it is hot sugar and so some care is required, but you don't even really need a thermometer. This is a very popular offering at parties and gatherings and I suggest you only make it then unless you want a wide-load sign permanently stapled to your hips. Good stuff. And even if you get totally distracted and forget the soda, it still makes great brittle too!
Chocolate Pecan Toffee (Buttercrunch)
makes 1½ pounds of candy
adapted from Dave Lebovitz
2 cups of crispy or toasted pecans (or nut of choice), chopped from fine to coarse
2 tbsp water
¾ cup butter, cut in pieces
pinch of fine grain sea salt
1 cup sugar (I use evaporated cane sugar)
¼ cup packed light brown muscovado sugar
¼ tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup mini chocolate chips
Line a baking sheet with parchment or oil with sunflower oil. Sprinkle half the nuts on the sheet in a roughly 8x10" area.
In a 2Qt heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the water, butter, salt and sugars. Attach a candy thermometer if using. Cook, stirring as little as possible until the mixture reaches about 300ºF. (My sugar mix is usually done closer to 295º.) If you feel like it needs stirring, give the pan a swirl to mix. If you do not have a candy thermometer, grab a brown paper grocery bag and cook until the color matches the bag or maybe just a tiny shade darker. HAVE YOUR BAKING SODA AND VANILLA READY.
When your candy reaches the right shade and/or temperature, immediately remove from heat and stir in the soda and vanilla.
Quickly pour the toffee evenly over the nuts on the prepared sheet. You can spread with a rubber spatula if absolutely necessary but otherwise try not to work it too much.
Sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the hot toffee and let stand a minute or two until melted. Spread evenly with an offset spatula or knife.
Sprinkle the rest of the nuts over the chocolate and press in gently with your hands.
Allow to cool completely and break into chunks to serve. Keep in an airtight container for up to 10 days. (I like to keep mine in the fridge for longer keeping and because I like it cold. Well, mostly because I like it cold. It never lasts past 10 days.)