A Sweet Gift from the Kitchen

If you love to prepare treats from your kitchen as holiday gifts, you’ll want to try the following recipe for chocolate-coated toffee with almonds and walnuts. Last year around this time, my talented assistant, Diana, brought me a small carton filled with a cache of these addictive morsels.

I asked if she’d share her recipe, and was stunned to discover how easy this toffee was to prepare. “Three easy steps,” she smiled and explained. First, you make the toffee in a saucepan using sugar, butter, and almonds, and then spread it in a baking sheet. Next, you sprinkle chocolate chips over the warm toffee until they melt, and then add a dusting of crushed walnuts. Finally, you chill the mixture, and then break it into chunks! Voilà!

This rich toffee, packed in small holiday tins or boxes tied with festive ribbons, would make a thoughtful present for a host or hostess, or for teachers, neighbors, friends, or others whom you’d like to remember during the season of giving. Oh, and don’t forget to keep some for yourself. A piece or two savored with a cup of coffee would make a perfect little indulgence to banish holiday stress!

Diana’s Christmas Toffee

Nonstick vegetable spray

1 1/2 sticks salted butter

2 1/4 cups sugar

1 cup sliced almonds

One 12-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips (Ghiradelli works particularly well.)

3/4 cup walnuts, coarsely ground (See note.)

Spray a 10-by 15-inch rimmed baking sheet generously with nonstick spray.

In a medium heavy saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the sugar, and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the sugar and butter are combined and mixture is thick. Continue to cook and stir, about 10 minutes. During this time the sugar will melt, and the mixture will turn a rich dark golden brown and take on a thick syrupy-like consistency. When the toffee has reached this point, stir in the almonds. Then carefully pour the hot mixture into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly with a metal spatula or a table knife.

Distribute the chocolate chips evenly over the toffee mixture in the pan, and then, using a metal spatula or table knife, spread the chocolate as it melts into an even layer. Sprinkle the walnuts over the chocolate layer, and using a spatula press lightly to make them adhere.

Place the baking sheet in the fridge, and chill until mixture is cool and completely set, 1 hour or longer.

Place two large sheets of waxed paper or parchment, slightly overlapping, on a work surface. Invert the pan to release the toffee onto the paper. Using a rolling pin, break into irregular pieces. Do not over-pound. Store toffee in an airtight container. (Toffee can be prepared 2 weeks in advance and kept at cool room temperature or stored in the refrigerator.) Makes about 8 cups.

For gifts, place the toffee in small, individual holiday tins or boxes. If using the latter, place the toffee in a self-sealing bag and then into the boxes.

Note: Do not ground the walnuts in a food processor. Put them in a self-sealing bag, and pound with a rolling pin or meat pounder until coarsely ground.

Note: After you’ve pounded the toffee to break it into pieces, you’ll have some small bits left over. Don’t discard them; they make great sprinkles for scoops of ice cream.

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