Almond Butter Crunch

December 17, 2010

almondd butter crunch

The Christmas line-up at our house was always the same: red and green pecan logs covered with powdered sugar snow; fluffy white divinity; sugar cookies in Santa, snowman, and reindeer shapes; icebox cookies (eaten in the raw state more than cooked); M&M cookies; cheese balls; buckeyes; fudge; and my favorite, my mom’s almond butter crunch.

It’s what a Heath bar wishes it could be, but never will — melted Hershey bars spread across a cooled plank of crunchy almond-studded brittle, always broken up by hand, in uneven, bark-like pieces.

Sigh.

The woman that makes picture-perfect pie crusts, and bakes cinnamon rolls every Christmas morning, is also the queen of all things candy (she’s also the queen of fried chicken, biscuits and many other things, but I’ll try to stay on topic).

Because Mom knows that I love her almond butter crunch, she always made a double batch so I’d have plenty to take home after Christmas. Each year, she’d buy special glass jars for her take-home toffee, and sometimes, if she had time (though I don’t know how she did), she’d get out her acrylic paints and brushes and decorate the cheery red lid with my name and holly leaves with tiny red berries. Then she’d tie it up with a red gingham checkedy bow — just for good measure, as she’d say.

As if the almond butter crunch itself wasn’t enough. Isn’t my mom incredible?

Baking together at Christmastime is one of the things that I miss most about having this big old ocean between us. Sure, I can make Mom’s recipes, and I can sing the “Sisters” song from “White Christmas” just like we used to do, but it’s just not the same as sitting at the kitchen table with mom, sharing a cup of coffee, and biting the head off of a snowman cookie with red hot buttons and a crooked smile.

Almond Butter Crunch

This is my mom’s aunt Faye’s recipe, and it was given to her in 1960, before I was born, even. She left the 25-cent Hershey bar reference in the recipe just for fun.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup butter
1 ⅓ cups sugar
1 tablespoon white corn syrup
3 tablespoons water
1 cup blanched slivered almonds, toasted
4 4 1/2 oz. (25 cents) Hershey bars, melted (that’s a total of 18 oz. milk chocolate)
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted and chopped

Line a 10″ x 15″ cookie sheet with heavy duty foil and generously grease with butter.

1. Working in two different batches, put the toasted almonds in a small food processor and pulse a couple of times so they’re in smaller pieces, but not powdered. Put the almonds in separate small bowls, and set aside.

2. Melt butter in large, heavy, deep-sided saucepan over low heat. Add sugar, corn syrup and water. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon until candy thermometer reads “crack” stage (300 degrees). Quickly stir in 1 cup toasted slivered almonds, and spread on cookie sheet with a spatula. Mom Tip: “Do this quick, quick, quick. You’ve got to spread it quickly before it sets up on you.” Cool thoroughly at room temperature.

3. Spread one side with half of the chocolate and sprinkle with half of the toasted sliced almonds. Let cool completely. Once the chocolate on first side has hardened, cover with wax paper, carefully flip to the other side, and spread with remaining chocolate and sliced almonds. Let cool, and break into pieces. This candy keeps best stored in the fridge.


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steph chambers December 17, 2010 at 12:50 PM

We do a similar recipe of Hazelnut Toffee at our house. The ‘crack’ reading on the thermometer was always interpreted by my husband, Steve, as “yeah, it’s time for crack!” He couldn’t get enough of it and was jealous of our boys’ teachers who siphoned off pounds of the stuff from what he thought of as his personal cache. Happy to see the memory is fond for you as well. Gorgeous photo!! Steph

DessertForTwo December 17, 2010 at 7:06 PM

Your mom sounds amazing. So Texan :)

Judith December 18, 2010 at 10:52 AM

Our family recipe called for almonds but I use pecans now because my bro prefers them. For the chocolate layer, we pour chocolate chips on the toffee while it’s still hot; after a minute, it’s easy to spread. This year we used Hershey chocolate chips but I also like Ghiradelli.

Susan December 20, 2010 at 5:59 PM

This looks great, and I can’t wait to try it. A question though…which of the toasted nuts go into the food processor, the slivers or slices, or both?

coachwife6 December 20, 2010 at 10:21 PM

I am in the midst of making this right now. No. 4 son made snowman sugar cookies while I helped him and made this in stages. Can’t wait until it’s done. Sounds heavenly.

epierce December 21, 2010 at 12:47 AM

Susan, they both do, but separately. The slivered ones go into the candy itself, while the sliced almonds go on top. Be sure and pulse only a time or two – you don’t want them to be powdered, merely chopped up a bit. Good luck!

Carina December 24, 2010 at 8:26 AM

I miss cooking with your mum at Christmas just from reading this. Such wonderful memories for you to have.

Elizabeth December 12, 2011 at 5:24 PM

My mom was a great lover of all things Christmas and almond butter crunch was a treat she frequently made at the holidays. Sadly, we lost her to cancer (on Christmas morning!) 7 years ago. I’ve tried to carry on most of her holiday recipe traditions with my own girls, but had lost her recipe for almond butter crunch. This looks like the exact one she used and I can’t wait to try it! Thank you for sharing this recipe!

epierce December 13, 2011 at 7:14 PM

Elizabeth: I’m so sorry to hear about the timing of your mom’s death…Christmas must be such a bittersweet holiday for you. I so hope that this almond buttercrunch recipe brings back joyful memories and smiles to you all. Happy holidays!!

Kristin January 7, 2013 at 12:36 AM

Help! We just made this, but it burned :( The candy thermometer didn’t even read 250, but we gave up and transferred to the cookie sheet anyway… any idea what may have gone wrong? I used organic unsalted butter, real maple syrup & muscavado sugar…

Cowgirl Chef January 7, 2013 at 10:26 AM

Kristin, it’s so hard to say what went wrong for you — using different ingredients in some recipes can yield uncertain results. You may want to try with the ingredients listed and see what happens…

Kristin January 10, 2013 at 1:53 AM

We tried it again, this time with raw cane sugar, organic unsalted butter & maple syrup (I just can’t bring myself to buy a bottle of corn syrup that I’ll just end up throwing out). It started to smell like it was burning when it got somewhere between 225-250F, so we took it off. We had previously stirred in the almonds when we thought it was done (but wasn’t) so it wasn’t quite as dramatic as the first time. According to what I’ve read about the stages & their corresponding temperatures, this would have been the temperature to cook to for marshmallows (soft ball), but the resulting candy definitely wasn’t spongy- but certainly not toffee or peanut brittle-like either. Pretty damn good nonetheless (whether it turned out how it should have or not!) <3

katrine shorb September 16, 2013 at 12:00 PM

I have this same recipe handed down from my Mother! She started making it in the 60′s too!!!! LOVE IT as does everyone!!!! Make it like crazy at Christmas for all the family and friends. I am 63 and have made hundreds of batches. The last few years I have been teaching one of my daughter in laws and a granddaughter. We make it for our bake sale fundraising event. Hope they learn it; not an easy candy to make. I still battle with how to figure out why sometimes the chocolate comes off when I break it up. Any suggestions? I do melt it on a low simmer in a double boiler. Let it cool a bit before applying to toffee. Thanks!!!!

Cowgirl Chef September 16, 2013 at 12:08 PM

Hi Katrine: So glad you love this recipe, too. I always know it’s Christmastime when I’m eating almond butter crunch. As for the chocolate separating from the candy, is your candy thoroughly cooled before you’re applying the chocolate? Also, I wouldn’t let the chocolate cool too much before applying. I like to spread it when it’s warm and have had great “stick to the candy” results. Thanks for writing and good luck with your next batch!

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