This is killer. And this is your chance to use that really fantastic salt you got as a gift this year, but haven’t known what to do with. You know, the orange volcanic one, or the one you have to shave, or the one that looks like sparkling sequins. Because this is all about the salt.
We spotted this David Lebovitz recipe on his blog several years ago. We hated him for living in Paris and having the nerve to complain about winter there (try winter in Montréal), but then we made this candy. Butter, sugar, nuts, chocolate, vanilla, baking soda, salt, and 20 minutes later, heaven.
His original recipe uses almonds, which are terrific, but hazelnuts take this to the dark side, especially if you leave the skins on. Their tannins deepen the chocolate flavour.
As for the salt. An early Santa brought us a lovely pouch of maple smoked rock salt from Vancouver Island that has really rocked our kitchen. It’s almost bacony, and the texture is perfect. You want a salt that’s big enough that it won’t just melt into the chocolate. Something that will have some crunch. We hope you’ll try this. It’s just fantastic.
chocolate hazlenut buttercrunch toffee
2 C nuts, toasted and chopped half-coarse, half-fine
2 tbsp. water
½ C butter
1 C sugar
¼ C brown sugar
¼ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract
5 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
Lightly oil a baking sheet with unflavored vegetable oil. Sprinkle half the nuts onto the baking sheet. (Make an oval in the centre, don’t sprinkle them evenly over the whole sheet.)
In a heavy-duty saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, heat the water, butter, a pinch
of salt, and both sugars. Cook, stirring as little as possible, until the temperature reaches 300º F.
Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and baking soda. Quickly pour the mixture over the nuts on the baking sheet, so it forms an oval of relatively even thickness.
Sprinkle the chocolate over the hot toffee, and let it stand for two minutes. It will melt. Spread the melted chocolate into an even layer, then season it with plenty of salt. Sprinkle the remaining nuts onto the chocolate, and gently press them in.
Cool completely, break into pieces, and serve.