Christmas Tradition #1

One of the best part of the holidays is spending time revisiting family traditions.  For Carolyn, that means making candy. Each year, Carolyn makes her trademark Double Almond Crunch and Peanut Brittle for family and friends. And in the spirit of Christmas, Carolyn has graciously offered to share her recipes with our “Road Family.”  

Making candy from scratch can be a little tricky. Here are a couple of tips Carolyn has perfected over the years to help insure a successful experience: 

Tip #1- Check the accuracy of your candy thermometer. Any candy making endeavor requires a trusty candy thermometer to make sure the candy reaches the proper temperature. This is critical. Carolyn has been using the same thermometer for 30 years and it has never let her down because she first checks the accuracy of the thermometer and then adjusts accordingly before getting started.  To see how accurate your thermometer is, boil some water in a pan and insert your candy thermometer in to the water.  Continue boiling the water for 3 minutes and then remove the thermometer.  If your thermometer is accurate, it should read 212 degrees, the temperature of boiling water. If not, make adjustments accordingly, up or down, depending on what your thermometer says after the test.  

Tip #2- Pad your work area.  Carolyn prepares her counter top with layers of newspaper and then places heavy duty aluminum foil on top.  This helps contain the mess and provides a smooth, even space for finishing your candy after it has been cooked.

Tip #3- Keep sides of pan clean while cooking.  Even one loose sugar granule can turn your whole batch of candy in to a grainy flop. To prevent this from happening, Carolyn recommends wrapping a dampened paper towel around a wooden spoon and use it to wipe around the inside of the pot to clean off any sugar residue.

Today’s recipe is for Carolyn’s Double Almond Crunch. This delicious treat is similar to an almond toffee. Carolyn got this recipe from a cookbook that is now out of print, Homemade Candy. The cookbook was compiled by the food editors of Farm Journal and was published in 1970!! Carolyn has found that the modern cookbooks just can’t compare to the techniques and ingredients used in the old Homemade Candy edition.  

Carolyn’s Double Almond Crunch

1 cup coarsely chopped almonds (Carolyn recommends getting slivered almonds and chopping them a bit)

1 cup finely chopped almonds (Carolyn calls this “almond dust.” You can use almond meal or get the thinnest almonds and put them in a food processor to get them fine)

1 cup butter (2 sticks)

1-1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

3 tablespoons water

3 bars mild chocolate, melted (The giant Hershey bars work great) (Carolyn uses twice as much)

Spread the almonds in a thin layer on separate shallow pans.  Place in a slow oven (300 degrees) until the nuts are delicately browned or until time to add them to candy. Watch carefully.Meanwhile, melt butter over low heat in a 2-quart heavy saucepan; add sugar, corn syrup and water. Cook, stirring occasionally, to the hard crack stage on the candy thermometer (300 degrees).  Watch carefully after candy reaches 280 degrees. 

Quickly stir in warmed, toasted coarsely chopped almonds. Pout onto a sheet of heavy aluminum foil. Cool thoroughly.  When completely cooled, spread top with half of chocolate and sprinkle with half of the finely chopped almonds. Cover with waxed paper and turn over. Spread candy with remaining chocolate and sprinkle with remaining almonds. Set in a cold place until chocolate is firm.  Break in pieces.  Makes 2-1/2 pounds.  Enjoy!!!