I make batches of this during the holidays and I've done so for so many years that I didn't have a recipe written out. Folks love it so much that they ask to be added to my toffee list and are prompt to remind me if I'm a little late in my deliveries. The December holidays at our house mean batch after batch of toffee-making. I could make this in my sleep! I taught my mother how to make this and we enjoyed making it together once my folks moved to San Diego in 1988. (I've included a photo of our first "California Christmas" together.) After she died, it took me three years before I could bear to make toffee and I renamed it "Scottish Toffee" in honor of her MacPherson roots. For me, this recipe is all about giving and sharing -- everything I love about cooking and being in my kitchen, just as women in my family have always done. —Lizthechef
Test Kitchen Notes
WHO: Lizthechef is inspired by the recipes and techniques of Ina Garten and Melissa Clark.
WHAT: An edible gift that your friends, family, and neighbors would probably pay you for (but don’t get any ideas).
HOW: Sandwich buttery caramel between layers of melted semisweet chocolate and finely chopped almonds. Freeze for an hour before breaking and gifting.
WHY WE LOVE IT: If you’re planning on giving this as a present, be warned: Once you’ve had one piece of this simple-to-make candy, you will have to have another. It's chocolatey, nutty, and crunchy, and the story behind it (read Lizthechef’s headnote) is in the spirit of the holiday season. —The Editors
(1 1/2 packages) semisweet chocolate chips, such as Ghirardelli, divided in two
(2 sticks) unsalted butter
brown sugar, generously packed
best-quality vanilla extract
Good-quality sea salt, optional
Put half the nuts and half the chocolate chips onto a cookie sheet.
Using a candy thermometer to monitor, cook butter and brown sugar over medium-high heat in medium-sized pot until you reach "hard crack" stage -- 300° F. Stir constantly. This will take about 15 minutes. (Using a copper pot allows you to cook at a higher temperature without burning the caramel.)
Remove the pot from heat and quickly add salt and vanilla.
Carefully pour the caramel mixture over the mix of nuts and chocolate. Sprinkle remaining chocolate over hot mixture. When melted, smooth out with the back of large spoon. Sprinkle remaining nuts and gently press into the toffee. If you like salted caramels, you may want to sprinkle some good-quality sea salt on top of the candy.
Freeze one hour before breaking into pieces for storage -- or snacking.