My Nana’s Almond Roca is a family tradition that we look forward to every year. Start your own tradition and gift this Almond Roca to those you love.
My paternal grandparents were snowbirds. They left rainy Seattle each October and wintered in Palm Desert, returning in May. Each year in the final three weeks before Christmas, our family would stalk the front porch for a UPS delivery. We were alert for a repurposed random household box that contained the ultimate in holiday goodness – Nana’s Almond Roca.
Nana would craft this family delicacy in their small mobile home at the “old people farm” in the desert and ship it off around the country. The box would be opened and the candy would quickly be claimed and squirreled away in various hiding places around the house. The only thing better than eating fresh Almond Roca right from the box is finding a small bag of it stuffed behind the Boxcar Children and Babysitters Club series on your bookshelf in June.
When my grandma passed away in 1995, the Almond Roca tradition came to an end. In the mid-2000’s, it became unsafe for my grandpa to live alone. My aunt and uncle moved up from California to live with him and keep him safe in his final years. During that transition phase, my newly retired aunt Connie found herself with extra time for cooking and baking. As she explored and experimented, she came across Nana’s recipe box. Recipe box is a loose term because Nana was the original “dump” cook of the family. She taught me the art of adding a little of this and a pinch of that and measuring almost nothing.
My aunt even found the famous Almond Roca recipe card. Like anything Nana made, the ingredients and directions were vague. Connie researched and attempted many different variations before she finally was able to replicate the family ‘roca.
As kids have been added to the family, the adults got together and decided to only give the children birthday and Christmas gifts. We included a caveat in that rule to allow for homemade items to be gifted amongst the adults. No one particularly felt a burning need to make things…but we all wanted a tin of Connie’s Almond Roca. Consider us candy motivated.
With Connie’s help, I finally wrote out the recipe in detail (no more giant holes where you have to guess what to do) to save for future generations. From our family to yours, may this recipe incite package looting, the squirreling of candy in nooks around the house, and warm memories for years to come.
Helpful Almond Roca Supply List
Nana's Almond Roca
My Nana's Almond Roca is a family tradition that we look forward to every year. Start your own tradition and gift this Almond Roca to those you love.
- 1 pound almonds ~2 1/2 cups
- 1/4 cup water, plus more for boiling the almonds
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup corn syrup
- 1/2 pound butter 2 sticks
- 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate
Place almonds in a heatproof bowl. Pour boiling water over the almonds. Let sit for 45-60 seconds.
Drain the almonds, rinse in cold water, and allow to drain again. Cool enough to handle.
Pinch the almond between thumb and forefinger and gently squeeze to remove the skin. Repeat until all almonds are peeled.
Microwave the almonds for 10 seconds and then split using a sharp knife. Line a baking sheet with a tea towel. Spread the almonds on the towel to dry.
In a food processor, pulse 1/4 cup of almonds until they resemble fine crumbs. Set aside.
Bring 1/4 cup water, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil.
Add the butter. When it has melted, add the almonds. Stir constantly until the almonds are browned. The mixture will be very thick and you'll be hating me for your sore arms. Keep stirring! If you're using a candy thermometer, it will be ready at 295 degrees (hardcrack stage).
Remove from heat and using a wooden spoon, quickly spread on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment.
Sprinkle the butter crunch with the chocolate chips, and allow them to get melty. Use an offset spatula or butter knife to spread the chocolate evenly over the toffee. Immediately sprinkle with reserved crushed almonds.
Place the tray in a cool place in your house or fridge, and allow to cool completely. Break into pieces and store at room temperature.
If you don't want to blanch almonds yourself, almost any grocery store sells them. Which I pretty much recommend because doing it yourself sucks.
Almond blanching instructions are adapted from This Mess is Ours.
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