Saturday, January 21, 2017

Home-Made Almond Roca: National Buttercrunch Day

Yesterday was National Buttercrunch Day. Buttercrunch and English Toffee are the same, and I've posted lots of recipes for English Toffee over the years, including this one for Chocolate Almond Buttercrunch Toffee.  

Almond Roca is also known as Almond Buttercrunch. I first had Almond Roca as a young girl. A neighbor who drove us to school always had Almond Roca on the coffee table in the recreation room. This neighbor didn't have the same rules as in my household (No Candy until after dinner--not to mention before school!). So I always had Almond Roca when these neighbors were driving. So for yesterday's holiday--Buttercrunch Day, I suggest you make the following recipe for Home Made Almond Roca. No time to cook? Pick up a bar of Almond Roca. It's not too late. We all need something sweet this weekend! This recipe for Home-made Almond Roca is adapted from Elizabeth LaBau on AboutFood.com

Home-Made Almond Roca

Ingredients 
4 ounces butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp light corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups toasted whole almonds, coarsely chopped
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate

Directions
Prepare 8x4 loaf pan by lining with aluminum foil and spraying foil with nonstick cooking spray.
In small saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt, and stir until brown sugar dissolves.
Once brown sugar melts, start timer and cook candy for exactly 6 minutes, stirring constantly with wooden spoon. If you use a candy thermometer, stir and boil toffee until it reaches 290 degrees.
After six minutes, take toffee pan off heat and stir in 1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds. Scrape toffee into prepared loaf pan—it should be in a layer about 1/2-inch thick.
Let toffee set for about 3 minutes, then use pizza cutter or paring knife to cut toffee into thin bars about 1/2-inch by 2 -1/2 inches. They will look small, but once they're dipped in chocolate and rolled in nuts, they'll be bigger. After another 2 minutes, go over your cuts again as toffee continues to harden.
As you wait for toffee to set, chop remaining 1 cup of toasted almonds very finely, or put them in food processor and pulse for several seconds until they are in very small pieces. Pour finely chopped almonds into shallow bowl.
Once toffee is completely cool and set, break into pieces along lines you made, and trim off any jagged edges with knife.
Melt chocolate. Dip each piece of Almond Buttercrunch in melted chocolate, then place in the bowl of nuts.  Roll it around until coated with nuts on all sides, then take it out of nuts with fork and place on baking sheet. Repeat until all toffee pieces are coated with chocolate and nuts.
Optional: To make it 'really' look like Almond Roca, wrap individual pieces in gold foil.
Refrigerate tray to set chocolate (about 10 minutes).
Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to two weeks. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Chocolate Caramel Popcorn Balls: National Popcorn Day

Today is National Popcorn Day! I usually post popcorn recipes around the time of Academy Awards, but I came across this recipe last year on the Taza Chocolate website. You may recall that I always have a bar of Taza Mexicano chocolate in my desk. It's a favorite. I love the stone ground texture.  So, I've saved this slightly adapted recipe for Chocolate Caramel Popcorn Balls to post today. As I've mentioned before on this blog, you can find some great recipes at food and food association sites. I love the crunchy salty-sweet taste of these Chocolate Caramel Popcorn Balls, and they're so easy to eat. Great for parties for both kids and adults!

CHOCOLATE CARAMEL POPCORN BALLS
Makes 15 popcorn balls

Ingredients
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
pinch of salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
8 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup Taza Roasted Cacao Nibs
2 bars Taza Dominican 70% Dark Stone Ground Chocolate, chopped
Wood skewers or popsicle sticks
Sprinkles, to garnish

Directions
Grease large mixing bowl with oil or kitchen spray. In large lidded pot with lid on, heat vegetable oil, popcorn, and pinch of salt over high heat while continuously shaking pot and listening for popping. Remove from heat when popping is less frequent than every 3 seconds and pour into greased bowl.

In saucepan combine sugar, brown sugar, honey, and butter over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until temperature reaches 300 degrees measured on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and carefully add baking soda (be careful, the sugar will bubble and expand!), then pour over popcorn carefully using a spatula to toss and coat the popcorn. Add cacao nibs.

When popcorn is cool enough to handle, but still warm, wet hands and form popcorn into balls, sticking each one with skewers or popsicle sticks.

Place chocolate in heat proof bowl, then place on top of bowl of simmering water until chocolate is warm and melted then drizzle over popcorn balls. Top with sprinkles if desired. Allow to cool before serving.

Photo: Taza Chocolate

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Honey Chocolate Pie: Winnie the Pooh Day

Today is Winnie the Pooh Day. Yes, there's a holiday for everything! Here's a recipe for Honey Chocolate Pie from The Pooh Cook Book by Virginia H. Ellison, illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard (1969: Dell Publishing). This Cook Book (yes, two words) is inspired by Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne.

One of my favorite stuffed animals as a child was Tigger, and I have always been a big honey fan, probably because of the Winnie the Pooh stories. I have honey every day, and perhaps Winnie had allergies, too, and needed his "Hunny."I have found that a teaspoon of local honey every day has alleviated my Spring allergies.


From the Introduction to The Pooh Cook Book:

As a cook you should know that honey is almost twice as sweet as sugar, and yet when you eat it, it doesn't make you want to go on eating sweets. Honey is also healthful, and very good for active people. When used in cooking it keeps food moist and adds a flavor all its won, as you will see when you've made some of the dishes in The Pooh Cook Book. Clover honey is the best all-purpose honey but there are as many flavors, or kinds of honey as there are blossoms on flowers and bushes and trees."

HONEY CHOCOLATE PIE