Posted by: acooksca | 10/25/2009

Almond Toffee from Chef Karrie Hills, Paso Robles Inn Steak House

Karrie Hills is the Sous Chef, Pastry Chef and oversees banquet preparations at the Paso Robles Inn Steak House.

Almond Toffee

Almond Toffee

She was recently wearing another toque, stepping in for the Executive Chef who was out on leave. Within this busy schedule Karrie took the time to talk about a dessert that reflects the creative thought process of the kitchen.

“Here is a wonderful sweet treat that can be enjoyed all year round” writes Karrie. “This recipe plays a large roll in balancing the flavors of one of the Inns favorite desserts. I had a vision of “Rocky Road” being on our dessert menu. I wanted to recreate this classic, but add a Wow factor. After a couple different attempts I had completed my mission. Starting with homemade almond marshmallow, homemade chocolate bourbon ice cream, Tuaca marinated raisins and Jarden almond and cocoa nib toffee. The Wow factor was simple but fun. We use 151 Bacardi rum to “flambé” the raisins and pour them over the dessert just as it leaves the kitchen to enter the dinning room. When the server walks through the dinning room with a small fire on the plate, guest can’t help but be intrigued by the blue flame.”

Here’s a simpler home version of Karrie’s dessert that retains the Wow factor she looks for. In individual dessert bowls layer your favorite chocolate ice cream with marshmallows or marshmallow cream. Top with a crumble of her easy, fresh almond toffee (recipe below). In a small saucepan gently warm raisins in an 80 proof or greater liquor (rum or brandy are the traditional spirits to use). Once the liquor is hot, touch a match to the inside edge of the pan and the liquor will ignite. Spoon the flaming raisins over the ice cream desserts and serve at once… it extinguishes quickly.

Almond Toffee

2 cups granulated sugar
1 pound butter
1 ½ cups coarsely hand-chopped almonds (Jardan almonds or skin-on raw almonds)

Start by spraying a sheet pan with non-stick spray.

Put sugar and butter in a heavy saucepan and place over high heat. Stir mixture constantly, about 10 minutes. The mixture might start to liquefy (separate). If so, turn burner down to medium, but don’t stop stirring. Mixture will soon start to come back together. Keep cooking until mixture becomes a deep caramel brown (toffee color). Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped nuts.

Pour toffee into the sprayed sheet pan and smooth into an even layer. Be careful as the mixture is extremely hot and will heat up the sheet pan quite fast. When cool enough to handle, remove, break into manageable pieces and store between parchment or wax paper in an air tight container (do not refrigerate).

Toffee is best used soon after making. It will start to turn sticky as it sits but this does not affect the flavor. Break into pieces to use on desserts or serve along side coffee or tea.

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