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I didn’t taste one bit of this, but I hear it was lovely.

You see, I started this new diet. And sugar for right now . . . well it’s a nice thought, but that’s all it is.

My daughter and I made this on Sunday afternoon. Sunday afternoons are usually our time for making candy. I wouldn’t recommend making toffee in the dead of summer normally, but all we had was some butter and sugar in the house, with just some little odds and ends of whatever we had in the cupboards, so toffee it was!

Lurking in our pantry was a bag of cacao nibs, and in our fridge, a big bag of almond flour. We spread out the almond flour in the bottom of our baking sheet, and then got the cacao nibs for sprinkling on top. Cacao nibs, by the way, are my new favorite thing to eat with peanut butter. My usual sneak snack is a spoonful of peanut butter dipped in chocolate chips, but I recently switched to the same treat only without sugar. Instead, I take a spoonful of all natural peanut butter (Adam’s is my favorite brand), and dip it in cacao nibs. Oh, and sometimes I eat that with a banana! I tell you, it is the most wonderful snack in the whole wide world!!

But back to the toffee . . .

Now, I know there are some very top secret recipes out there for getting toffee to be just perfect, with just the right crunch, but we didn’t have any of those recipes. We did our best, though, and according to everyone else, the toffee came out pretty well.

While we were trying to speed up the process of cooling the toffee, though, we stuck it in the freezer. That made it more brittle, and gave it the doesn’t-stick-to-your-teeth crunch I was looking for. Once it came to room temperature, though, people said it stuck to their teeth more, but the taste was still great. But really, why wouldn’t the taste be great? I mean, come on—butter and sugar! (Oh, how I wish I could have some butter and sugar right now!!)

To make this, make sure to use a candy thermometer. This requires a TON of stirring, so you’ll probably want to clip on the thermometer near the end. Also, every time I make toffee, I burn myself. So, consider yourself forewarned. It’s a hot business, and I’m used to it. I remember once in high school making toffee, and I got a big fat blob of it stuck to my wrist, which I flung off so fast I never did end up finding it. I had a big fat burn as a memento, though.

Anyway, as a protective measure, have a small bucket of ice water on the counter by the stove if you need to plunge in your arm/wrist/finger/face if you should be lucky enough to get burnt. You’ll need it right by the stove since you won’t be able to stop stirring the candy until it’s done. Otherwise, it will burn, too. And then that would really stink—to have a burnt arm/wrist/finger/face and burnt toffee. But of course, if the burn is horrible, please, just turn off the stove, pull the candy off the burner, and run the burn under cool water, and get to the hospital! But let’s just hope it doesn’t get that bad.

Candy making does take some finessing, and a little bit of fearlessness, but it is doable. You just have to be brave. And willing to start over again if the first batch is a dud.

Good luck, and please tell me how it turns out—I’m dying to know how it tastes.

cacao nib and almond toffee

1 cup ground almonds or almond flour
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 cup granulated cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. In the bottom of a small quarter sheet baking pan or a 13 x 9 inch pan, spread almond flour in an even layer. Set a small bucket of ice water on the counter next to the stove within easy reach of where you’re stirring. This is in case any of the hot butter or candy splashes out of the pan and you get a tiny burn (if it’s a big burn, please turn off the stove and get the proper medical attention). In a heavy bottomed saucepan with high sides, melt butter and stir in sugar and salt. When this mixture starts to bubble around the edges, use a long handled wooden spoon, and start stirring . . .

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2. . . .and stirring. Keep stirring. After you’ve stirred about 10 minutes, the mixture should start breaking up and looking like crystalized sugar in a sea of melted butter. That’s exactly what it is, and perfectly fine. Just keep stirring. But be extra careful though, because this is when the butter like to start splashing up along the sides of the saucepan (This is when I would have really liked to have had a handy bowl of ice water lying around.). After awhile, the sugar will start to melt back into the butter and the candy will start to come together. If you want to switch to a good quality whisk at this time, that would be great. Keep stirring, and just as the mixture starts to turn beige, clip the candy thermometer to the saucepan, and keep stirring, but being careful now not to knock the thermometer out of the pan. When the candy comes to 310 degrees, remove from heat, stir in vanilla extract, and pour mixture over the almond flour in the pan. Allow to come to room temperature. While it’s cooling, sprinkle on about 1/4 cup of cacao nibs. When the toffee is cooled completely, break up into smaller pieces. Place in the freezer for twenty minutes if you want the texture of the toffee to be crumbly.

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