For me, this toffee is the epitome of the Christmas season (we start badgering Tina to cook it the day after Thanksgiving), and something I look forward to nibbling on every year. Nothing is more depressing than reaching for my family's toffee tin and finding it empty. So please cook up this toffee until your kitchen is heavy with the scent of butter, sugar, and the holiday spirit.
*1 pound unsalted butter (plus extra for greasing the pans)
*2 cups white sugar
*½ teaspoon salt
*1/4 cup water
*1 ½ teaspoon vanilla
*2 cups dark chocolate, chopped
*2 cups milk chocolate, chopped
*2 cups finely chopped toasted almonds
Melt the butter, sugar, water and salt over a low flame, stirring with a wooden spoon. When the mixture starts to boil, turn the heat up to medium. Meanwhile, grease two cooking pans with butter. After 15-20 minutes, the mixture should reach about 305 F. Turn off the heat and add the vanilla, stirring to incorporate. Be careful not to burn yourself or the mixture, but if you do (and I have), run your hand under room temperature water (never cold or hot water) to subside the pain. Immediately take the hot toffee and pour into two greased cooking pans, and smooth until evenly coated and about 1/8 or 1/4 inch thick. Put the pans into the fridge to let the toffee cool (this will take several hours, but it's best to eave the toffee in over night, uncovered).
Once the toffee has cooled, remove it from the refrigerator and carefully loosen the pieces (you can do this by hand or with a knife). If it cracks, it's no biggie.
Melt the two types of chocolate over a double boiler, stirring to combine. Once the chocolate has melted, use a spatula to coat one side of the toffee, and then immediately sprinkle heavily with the chopped toasted almonds. (This must be done immediately because the cold toffee can cause the chocolate to harden before the almonds can stick). Put the toffee back in the fridge to cool the chocolate. Once it has hardened (it takes about an hour), flip and coat the other side with the chocolate and almonds. You will probably have chocolate and almonds left over, which you can use for more toffee (there's never enough!). Let it cool in the fridge until hardened again. When it's ready, take it out, and using your hands, crack it into irregular pieces. Bag them or stick them in a tin for your own enjoyment.
Photography by Claire Thomas.
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