In August, everyone talks about the gifts of the harvest, the joy of summer’s bounty, blah blah blah. It all sounds so trite and boastful now, like hearing someone describe their new Maserati. Do I want to hear this? Looking out the window at a lifeless Seattle sky, I can’t help but feel a little bitter toward even the idea of summer.
Things are getting pretty grim in my kitchen. The other night, I grabbed a bunch of woody, tough asparagus out of the produce drawer, lopped the ends off, and threw them into a roasting pan with some Meyer lemon vinaigrette leftover from some salad of weeks past. I stared, aghast, insulted. Who put asparagus in my refrigerator in December?
Then I remembered. It was me. It was a few days ago, when I stopped at a local grocery store for milk. I’d seen the asparagus and tossed them into my basket, too, hoping they’d insinuate themselves into my last weeks of recipes, hoping the mere whisper of the word “spring” might reignite the culinary creativity that seems to be sliding further and further from my grasp as my recipe number edges toward 365.
They tasted like pencils.
Which is why, in December, we should all live off butter and sugar.
Salty Marcona Almond Toffee (PDF)
Recipe 349 of 365
Slippery, crunchy, and luxuriously salty, Marcona almonds are the nuts I eat most compulsively. I typically avoid buying them at the grocery store, simply because they rarely survive the car trip home, but stirred into toffee with an extra dose of sea salt, they make a sweet snack worth the wait.
TIME: 15 minutes active time
MAKES: about 2 dozen pieces
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon Karo syrup
2 tablespoons water
6 ounces (1 heaping cup) Marcona almonds, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon chunky sea salt
Note: You’ll need a candy thermometer for this recipe.
Line a baking sheet with a silicon baking mat (or greased foil) and set aside.
Combine the butter, sugar, Karo syrup, and water in a medium non-reactive (not aluminum) saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the temperature reaches 290 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. (It will take 10 to 15 minutes, but this is not the time to wander around the kitchen, as overcooking the caramel will cause it to separate. Be patient.)
At 290 degrees, remove the pan from the heat, quickly and carefully fold the nuts and salt into the toffee, and pour it onto the lined baking sheet, allowing it too spread naturally. Cool completely, then break into bite-sized pieces. Store in an airtight container.