Always among the most popular confections, buttercrunch successfully combines chocolate, nuts and sugar in an enticing manner.
Makes about 75 pieces, depending how you break the slab
1/2 pound unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 tablespoons water
1 cup chopped toasted almonds or other nuts
1 pound semisweet chocolate
1 cup chopped toasted almonds
11 x 17-inch or 12 x 18-inch jelly roll pan, buttered
- To make the buttercrunch, melt the butter in a saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients except almonds. Return to heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches 300 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat, stir in almonds and pour out on buttered pan or marble to cool and harden.
- To make the topping, melt and temper the chocolate (see Note). Spread chocolate on one side of buttercrunch and sprinkle with half the chopped nuts. Allow to set, and repeat coating on other side. After both coatings have set, break into coarse pieces and store in a tin.
Note: When you melt chocolate, the crystals in the cocoa butter dissolve and become unstable. If the chocolate sets again after being melted, the cocoa butter rises to the surface and forms a gray film. To prevent this, you need to temper chocolate so the crystals become stable and the chocolate sets with good texture and sheen. Tempering is necessary when using chocolate for any number of decorative techniques, including cutouts or fine piping done on paper and transferred.
There are several different methods for tempering, all of which are geared to restabilizing the crystals of the cocoa butter so the chocolate returns to the same state it was in before melting. It is not practical to temper less than 1 1/2 pounds of chocolate at one time, since temperature changes occur so rapidly with a small quantity that the chocolate will go in and out of temper haphazardly during the process.
Temperature is an important part of tempering and a good thermometer makes the process a lot easier. Bear in mind the temperatures in the chart below when tempering chocolate.
1 to 1 1/2 pounds chocolate
- Very finely chop about 3/4 of the chocolate and place it in a heatproof bowl. Bring a pan of water to a simmer, remove from the heat and place the bowl of chocolate over the water. Be careful that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the surface of the water or the chocolate will overheat. Stir the chocolate frequently as it is melting. Measure the chocolate’s temperature occasionally to make sure that it does not exceed 120F.
- Remove the bowl from the water. Carefully dry the bottom of the bowl, so that there is no risk of water falling into the melted chocolate. Add the remaining chocolate in large pieces. Stir constantly to melt and incorporate the remaining chocolate. This process should take between 5 and 10 minutes.
- To bring the chocolate into a completely tempered state, reheat it repeatedly over the same pan of hot water for no more than 2 or 3 seconds at a time, until it reaches a temperature of 87F to 91F for bittersweet or semisweet chocolate or 84F to 88F for milk or white chocolate. Check the temperature of the chocolate after each time it is heated to prevent overheating. If the temperature rises above 91F, the chocolate is out of temper and you must start the process from the beginning.
110 F to 120 F: The chocolate should be melted to this temperature before tempering. The chocolate should be cooled by adding finely cut chocolate to begin restabilizing the crystals.
87 F to 91F: Bittersweet and semisweet chocolates should be elevated to this temperature to be in temper.
84 F to 88 F: Milk and white chocolates should be elevated to this temperature to be in temper.