So, how long does it take to get the smell of burnt sugar out of upholstery?

I decided that National Almond Buttercrunch Day would be my first foray into candy making. I even went and bought a candy thermometer and everything. I diligently read on the internet about this sweet treat: a base of chopped toasted almonds, a candy centre and a chocolate topping… maybe even a little fleur de sel to make it chi chi. Fellows like this guy told me it would be “really simple” and gosh darn it, I went in confident.

As it turns out, way way over confident, and came out with a lump of dark brown sugar and some wasted nuts and chocolate. *wah*

This is the basic recipe, which I found on any number of websites, with very few variations:

2 cups (170 grams) sliced or slivered almonds, toasted

1 1/4 cups (270 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar

2 tablespoons water

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

1 teaspoon (4 grams) pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Topping:

6 ounces (170 grams) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350F

Put almonds on a baking sheet and bake them for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown and fragrant. Set aside to cool.

Once the nuts have cooled to room temperature, place in a food processor, fitted with a metal blade, and pulse the almonds until they are finely chopped. Sprinkle half of the nuts in an 8 inch by 10 inch (20 cm x 25 cm) rectangle on a buttered or oiled baking sheet. Set aside.

In a medium-sized, heavy saucepan combine the brown sugar, water, butter, and corn syrup. Have the baking soda and vanilla extract ready. Bring the sugar mixture to a boil and cook, stirring as little as possible, until the mixture reaches 285 degrees F (140 degrees C) (soft-crack stage) on a candy thermometer. Immediately remove the saucepan from the heat as the temperature will continue to rise to 290 degrees F (145 degrees C). Add the baking soda and vanilla extract and stir to combine.

Immediately pour this mixture evenly over the nuts on your baking sheet. Then place the chopped chocolate over the hot toffee. After a few minutes the chocolate will be soft enough to spread with an offset spatula in an even layer over the toffee. Sprinkle the remaining chopped almonds over the melted chocolate.

Cool completely and then cut into desired shapes using a sharp knife.

Somewhere around the 250F mark I started to smell brunt sugar. Just a wiff. I wiser woman would have pulled the pot off the stove immediately and figured something else out. No, not me. I soldiered on, and by the time I hit the recommended temp, the toffee was VERY dark brown and the burnt sugar smell was… well, everywhere. I decided to pour it out onto some of the nuts, just to see – maybe it still tasted ok? That was a naive hope – it did in fact taste like burning. Yick.

Back to the drawing board…

D

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