By April Swiger, Contributing Writer
Crunchy, buttery, stick-to-your-teeth chocolaty goodness! Almond Roca (also known as Almond Toffee) is my favorite treat this time of year. The mixture of creamy butter, and pure maple syrup, heated and cooled to crisp toffee is absolutely to die for! Topped with chocolate, and chopped almonds, this dainty sweet is perfect to share with those you love. Better yet, you don’t even need a candy thermometer to make it!
I feel spoiled living in New England, surrounded by some of the best maple syrup in the whole world. Small “sugar shacks” dot the curvy rural backroads I often drive on through picturesque Connecticut towns. I was recently gifted two jugs of this “liquid gold” from local farms in our region and they have been burning a hole in my cabinet! With my calendar full, and gift list long, I knew it was time to experiment with a naturally sweetened version of my annual favorite.
According to Sally Fallon in Nourishing Traditions (page 536), maple syrup is “The concentrated sap of huge deciduous trees, maple syrup is rich in trace minerals, brought up from below ground by the tree’s deep roots. It imparts a wonderful flavor to cream-based desserts and may be used in baked goods, such as muffins and pancakes.”
Maple syrup contains antioxidant minerals like manganese and zinc, which are great for the immune system, and makes for a wonderfully natural alternative to refined sugar and corn syrup. However, it’s extremely important that 100% pure maple syrup is used. Most syrups bought at the grocery store are cut with corn-syrup, high fructose corn syrup, and fake maple flavoring. Buying 100% pure maple syrup from a reputable farmer is the best way to ensure its purity and health benefits.
Almond roca can be tricky to make, so be sure to give your full attention to the time spent at the stove. I don’t have a candy thermometer, but have learned how to make this sweet treat by sight and smell. It’s quite easy if you know what to look for. I’ve included a helpful step-by-step guide for you below so you can learn the stages of “melt” and create the most perfect almond roca!
UPDATE: See the note at the end of the recipe for information about using a candy thermometer and some troubleshooting tips!
A few thoughts about my ingredients:
- I used raw almonds in this recipe and chose not to soak and dehydrate them this time (although I have in the past for a different recipe!). If you would prefer to soak and dehydrate them, they should still work perfectly for almond roca! Kimi has previously written about phytic acid in nuts and seeds, as well as instructions for soaking them that are very helpful.
- I chose to use a brand of chocolate chips that are gluten, dairy, nut and soy free (affiliate link). Most store bought brands of chocolate contain soy lecithin, an artificial emulsifier that is most likely genetically modified. You could also use dark chocolate for a less sweet roca, or a homemade chocolate chip alternative. It’s up to you!
- Note from Kimi: This recipe uses beautiful butter, and it reminded me to tell you all that you can now get one of my favorite brands, Kerrygold, through my affiliate Amazon! Get a single one here, or a box of twenty. So helpful for those who can’t get it locally.
- 2 sticks of butter (16 Tbls)
- 1 cup pure maple syrup
- 2 Tbls water
- 1 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup (heaping!) chocolate chips (I use a dairy/nut/soy free brand. You could also use dark chocolate for less sugar content)
- ⅓ cup finely chopped almonds for sprinkling
- Prepare a small baking sheet (9x13) with parchment paper. Be sure to use one that has edges so the toffee doesn't drip out.
- In a saucepan, or cast-iron skillet, melt the butter, maple syrup, and water together on high, stirring constantly.
- These ingredients will move from a light golden color with a foamy consistency to darker with more bubbles, and eventually thicker and caramel-like.
- When the color begins to darken, and smells slightly toasty (be careful not to burn it!), remove the pan from the heat and quickly stir in the 1 cup of coarsely chopped almonds.
- Immediately spread the mixture onto the parchment paper evenly before it hardens. It will darken in color at this point.
- Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top. After a minute or two the chips will have melted into the hot toffee.
- Use a knife to spread the chocolate over the top.
- Sprinkle finely chopped almonds onto the chocolate.
- Refrigerate until hardened, or freeze for 20 minutes if you're impatient like me :)
- Break the roca into small pieces and enjoy!
Other sweet treats you may enjoy:
- Cracker Toffee
- Chile-Spiked Dark Chocolate Bark with Pepitas and Mango (dairy-free)
- Gluten and Dairy Free Pancakes (for any extra maple syrup you may have around!)