If you’ve ever tried those almond roca candies, you’ll know where I’m going with this. The candies have a hard almond toffee center, are covered in milk chocolate, and then rolled in toasted almonds. They’re basically a perfect bite of awesome.
A few years ago I found a recipe for squares in a Martha Stewart magazine that had an awful lot of similarities to those candies. It was also incredibly easy – using graham crackers as a base, and making a quick topping before tossing in the oven to bake. It was an instant classic, and with a few little tweaks (there wasn’t enough of that hard toffee for me in the original recipe), it’s now at nearly every party I have, or go to. Anna (4) refers to them as “The most fantastic cookies you make Mommy”. If that’s not a seal of approval…
The basics? You place a layer of graham crackers across the bottom of a rimmed cookie sheet then sprinkle on a bunch of toasted almonds and toffee pieces. You make a very quick caramel in a pan with some butter and sugar, letting it boil pretty much hands off for about 5 minutes, then pour it over the top of the crackers. You toss the pan in the oven for 10-15 minutes, then sprinkle on some chocolate chips and salt when it comes out. That’s it, you’re done. This is the easiest 20 minute sweet you’re ever going to make, and it’s one that you NEED in your life!
A warning: they are HIGHLY addictive. Even my husband, who has not a sweet tooth in his mouth (which sucks for someone who loves to bake), can’t get enough of these things. If you’re going to make them, make sure you’ve got a group coming over to help you eat them.
- 1 box of graham crackers
- ¾ of a bag of toffee bits (preferably not chocolate covered)
- 1½ cups of toasted almond pieces (I prefer slivered or sliced)
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1½ cups (3 sticks) butter
- ¾ cup milk chocolate chips (approximate, use what you want)
- salt to sprinkle (fleur de sel works great, as does freshly cracked sea salt or kosher salt)
- Preheat your oven to 350ºF with a rack in the middle position.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil (important!!). Lay a single layer of graham crackers across the entire sheet. Sprinkle your toasted almonds and toffee bits evenly across the crackers.
- Place your butter in a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat and start melting your butter. When it's about half melted add your sugar, and give it a quick whisk just until the sugar dissolves. Let the mixture come to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it go at a rolling simmer until the mixture thickens and is quite bubbly. You can give it a couple of whisks in between if you want, or swirl the pan. See notes below!
- Pour the thickened sugar mixture evenly over the crackers, using a spatula to spread it to any dry areas.
- Place the pan in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes. It's ready to come out when the entire tray is covered in little bubbles and is a golden brown. You will probably be closer to the 15 minute mark, just start checking it around 10-12 minutes in case your oven is fast.
- I like to use the foil to immediately pull the squares off the tray and onto a cutting board (this just makes it easier to cut later). Top with the chocolate chips (I like less chocolate, but lots of people like more), then sprinkle on the salt to taste.
- Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting into squares, then let cool completely before serving (not then I ever actually wait that long, the chocolate will just be runny at first).
The trickiest part to this recipe is letting the butter and sugar cook long enough. For a while there I was pouring it too early, and while the squares were still good, they weren't crisp enough for me.
Typically the mixture will go through these three stages:
First, it will look like an even mixture, a little bubbly, and you might think a little thick, but this is just the beginning. Don't pour it yet, it won't be crisp when you take it out of the oven.
Next, it may look like it's separated, and way too greasy / buttery. This induces panic that you've screwed it up (it does in me every time still). You haven't, wait it out, don't pour it yet!
Suddenly, the mixture will start to really bubble up and expand. It'll be a creamy white colour, and it will definitely start to look thick. This is what you've been waiting for! Let it go like this for 1 - 2 minutes, then give it a quick whisk and pour it over your crackers. It will be nice and thick / syrupy, so you'll probably need a spatula to spread it to the dry areas. If there are still a few dry spots, don't worry, it'll spread out more in the oven!