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Aunty Peggy’s Almond Roca & The Winner

Aunty Peggy’s Almond Roca & The Winner

Recipes

homemade-almond-roca

My family lost one of our oldest friends earlier this year.

Peggy was my mom’s first roommate, and my parents’ best friend for over 60 years.  To my brothers and me, she was Aunty Peggy; and as an honourary member of the family, she was a fixture around our Christmas, birthday and anniversary table from before the time I was born.

A force of nature who came close to marriage twice, but had second thoughts just in time, both times (neither would have worked, Mom says), Peggy was a high school vice-principal who kept “her” kids in line with a sharp tongue and decisive action.  She made her bones as a teacher in her 20s, traveling first to the UK, then to Australia, where she taught in some of London and Sydney’s toughest schools.  I never saw her in a situation she couldn’t manage handily.  And she did it all with flair…her 70’s closet made a fashion impression on me that still has my eye lingering on anything I find in that bold, rusty-orange she loved so much.

Her panache extended into the kitchen.  Aunty Peggy hosted at least one dinner party a month for most of her life, all of them multi-course affairs made from scratch.

And her Christmas candy was the stuff of legends.

At her funeral, there was a sense of palpable relief when it was announced that her recipes are safe and sound.  Some clamoured for the Rum Ball recipe, but I was all about this Almond Roca.  In my opinion, it crushes the stuff in the pink tin, wrapped in it’s pretty foil.  A little homemade love conquers mass production everytime, don’t you agree?

I made my first batch the day after her funeral.  It reads so easily that I was already dreaming of making multiple batches and shipping them to friends all over the world as I assembled the ingredients and followed her brief instructions.  When the butter and sugar separated into an unusable, gloopy mass, however, I woke up to the fact that I had just wasted near $10 worth of butter and almonds.

Next time, I halved the recipe and didn’t put the almonds in at the start, just in case of another disaster.  Which is exactly what I had.  Both times, long before my mixture got to temperature, the butter and sugar separated, never to be re-united.

And so to Google I went.  The candy techies out there informed me that all of the water was evaporating from my butter, causing the separation.  Here’s what I learned:

  • Use high-quality butter.  No-name butter caused problems for me both times I used it.
  • Brown sugar is more common than white in other recipes.
  • Melt the butter, add extra water, then add the sugar.
  • Add the almonds near to the end of the cooking stage, rather than at the beginning.

Since I made these changes to the recipe, I’ve made 3 successful, and very popular, batches.

roca-pan

  (Click on the title below for a printable version of the recipe.)

: Aunty Peggy’s Almond Roca

: A homemade version of my favourite Christmas candy. Rich with butter, almonds, pecans and chocolate.

  • Butter – 2 Cups
  • Brown Sugar, lightly packed – 2 Cups
  • Water – ⅓ Cup
  • Almonds, sliced & blanched – 2 Cups
  • Chocolate, semi-sweet or bittersweet (finely chopped) – 1 Cup
  • Pecans, finely chopped – ½ Cup
  1. Line a rimmed baking sheet/jelly-roll pan with parchment or a silicone sheet. Have a candy or instant-read thermometer ready.
  2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When melted, increase the heat to med-high and add the brown sugar and water. Stir constantly.
  3. Continue to cook until the mixture reaches 250° F, then add the almonds. Stir constantly, until the mixture reaches 290° F and is a dark golden caramel.
  4. Carefully pour into the prepared baking sheet set on a metal rack. Sprinkle the chocolate over in an even layer, then the pecans. Cool completely, refrigerating if necessary to set the chocolate. Break into pieces and serve.
  5. Store for up to 1 week in a tightly closed container.

 Notes:

  • Use high-quality butter.  No-name butter caused problems for me all 3 times I used it.
  • Brown sugar is more common than white in other recipes.
  • Melt the butter, add extra water, then add the sugar.
  • Add the almonds near to the end of the cooking stage, rather than at the beginning.

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

Cooking time: 30 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 12

Calories: a lot

Fat: a lot

Protein: none

Copyright ©  2009-2012 Island Vittles/Theresa Carle-Sanders. Don’t Steal – Karma’s Real.

And now, I’m happy to announce the winner of IV’s latest giveaway!  Congratulations to Lindsey, who was selected by random number generator to receive a signed copy of Seasonings – Flavours of the Southern Gulf Islands.  It will be on it’s way soon, Lindsey!