I started making Almond Rocha at Christmas time back when I was a new bride some 35 years ago.......
Pretty soon, I was making it for friends & family, too. It's a simple recipe, but it takes time. Over the years I have found that I really like spending that 30 or 40 minutes in the kitchen, stirring the pot and thinking about those that are dear to me. Even in the busiest of times, back when I had young children to care for; plus a full time job with allot of responsibility; plus running our own family business; back when it seemed an impossible task to get everything done for the holidays on top of our already crammed schedules; back then I discovered something important. I discovered that making Almond Rocha in my little kitchen, all those hours spent standing over the stove stirring that pot of boiling caramel, (usually while the rest of the household and much of the rest of the world had long gone to bed,) created that much-needed quiet time for me ~ a space for me to pause, to reflect upon and appreciate my family-who-are-friends and my friends-who-are-family. I pour allot of love into each batch!
Over time, I have become famous for this home-made candy. Truly. And my Rocha List continues to grow in direct proportion to my adding more special people to my life as the years go by.
So now-a-days, I buy my supplies from Costco. A twenty-five pound bag of brown sugar. Four boxes of butter, 4 pounds each. And two of those gigantic bags of chocolate chips. Yum!
And then I stir. And stir. And stir some more.
I think one of the secrets to having this turn out (I've had friends try repeatedly, then give up and ask to be back on the "nice" list!), is the candy-making pan you use. Mine is an old (very old!) iron pot that I got as a cast-off from my Mom, which she got from her mom. So there's a family heritage thing going on, too, as I stand over the stove and stir. And stir. And stir some more.
There are some really funny stories through the years about the creative hiding places for this stuff. A spouse who thought they didn't get any this year, only to find out his wife got to it first and hid it under the bed. Or in a suitcase in the closet. Or in her (locked) desk drawer at the office. I am entertained by these acts of lying and cheating and stealing and selfishness and hiding on such a holiday as Christmas!
So today I am sharing my not-so-secret recipe with you. The recipe itself is quite simple. The whole trick is pulling it off the stove at exactly the right moment. Too soon, and the toffee will be sticky, not crunchy. It will never set up. More importantly, you won't be able to get it unstuck from your teeth once you take a bite. But. If you pull it off too late, (and by this I mean two seconds too late), it will scorch, and the whole batch will taste burnt. Please don't ask me how I know this.
So here we go. Just 4 ingredients. Well, there's 5, if you count that generous portion of love.
Sherrie's Almond RochaIngredients:
1 pound butter
2 C. light brown sugar
1 C. semisweet chocolate chips (I use extra)
1/2 C. sliced almonds
Combine butter and brown sugar in a heavy pot over medium heat.
Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
Then stir constantly (important!) until it reaches
Hard Crack Stage on the candy thermometer.
It will get really thick and dense. Trust me, you can't leave it even for a second, you must stir it constantly.
Pour immediately into a sheet pan (I spray it with Pam first)
Top with chocolate chips.
Once they start to melt, spread the chocolate evenly with a spatula.
Sprinkle with sliced almonds. Pat these gently into the chocolate so they stick well once they're cooled.
Cool overnight. Then break it up into chunks and box it up in those cute little Christmas tins ~ and then watch where they hide it!