Friday, January 1, 2010

Almond Roca and 2010 Cooking Resolutions

Happy New Year!!! Welcome to 2010!!!

Can you believe it has been 1 whole decade since the 1999 to 2000 Y2K when we were worried about our computers blowing up and the world stopping?

I wanted to make a fancy shmancy cake for the new year but there was just such an abundance of food and dessert around already from the holidays that it would have been redundant. Plus, it doesn't help that our "holiday tradition" is to go shopping for discount Christmas chocolates the day after Christmas (...and Halloween, and Easter, and Valentine's day)!

This toffee is so easy and so addictive. It comes together quickly but needs to set and cool for several hours, so plan ahead. With under 10 ingredients, if you can boil water, you can surely make this. A candy thermometer is nice to have but not essential for this tecipe. However, you need a heavy vessel such as a cast iron skillet or a small/med dutch oven to better regulate the heat. A lightweight pot will scorch the sugar and you'll have less control over it.

This is my first post of the year so I'm going to outline some of my 2010 Baking Resolutions. In 2009 I conquered my fear of yeast and I expanded my horizons to include some cooking real food (as opposed to just baking & sweets). I also started getting purchase requests from co-workers and acquaintances for my baking! My cookbook collection has grown significsntly and I finally organized my printed and photocopied recipes into a 3" binder with dividers - one baking type.

1) Make Candy. I have only ever really made the almond roca toffee candy like the one in this post, which turned out great, but somehow the idea of candy making is still daunting. I'm going to challenge this fear and make use of my new Taylor heavy duty candy thermometer.

2) Laminated Doughs. I have never worked with croissant dough before but I have made puff pastry. My goal is to make a chocolate croissant or sticky buns from croissant dough.

3) Fondant and Cake Decorating. I have never worked with fondant before. Fondant covered cakes look so pretty and professional - I would love to be able to turn out something like that from my kitchen!

4) Use my dehydrator more. Ever since I received my dehydrator in July I have only used it twice. When summer hits this year I am determined to dry strawberries, cherries, peaches and blueberries so that I can take advantage of these summer fruits year-round.

5) Work my way through my cookbooks before buying more. I could devote a whole room to cook books and if I had the space, I probably would! Me and bookstores are like a moth to a flame. I can't help myself from gravitating towards the cookbooks!

Almond Roca
9 x 13 inch pan

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp water
1 tsp corn syrup

1 cup chopped almonds
1 cup bittersweet chocolate, chopped (or chocolate chips)

1. Have all ingredients ready before you begin. Line a 9x13 inch pan with parchment or silicone mat or lightly butter ir. Do not use foil or waxed paper because it sticks and is a bitch to peel off.

2. Melt butter in a cast iron/heavy pot. I use my 10" cast iron skillet or dutch oven. A heavy pot is key for heat regulation so it doesn't scorch.

3. Add sugar, water and corn syrup to melted butter on medium heat. Slowly bring mixture to 290-300 degrees F or until it darkens to a dark amber, stirring occasionally. Immediately remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup chopped almonds. Spread not mixture into pan and immediately sprinkle chocolate on top. Let stand for a few minutes before smoothing out evenly with a metal spatula. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup almonds over melted chocolate. Allow to cool fully before breaking into pieces.


Calico said...

Happy New Year, Tia! Am looking forward to seeing more of your baking explorations in the coming year.

Good Timing said...

Happy new year my dear. xoxo I hope you are doing well. Thinking of you!

sarahe said...

i am the same about bookstores and cookbooks--i cannot resist! one of my rules for myself last year was to check my cookbooks and magazine collection for recipes before going to the internet, and i have found some great recipes in those millions of books i amassed ;)

ButterYum said...

I'm in trouble - this is one of my favorite things to eat!