2 c. sliced almonds
1¾ c. sugar
3 T. water
½ c. unsalted butter
1 t. Blackstrap or other dark molasses
¼ t. sea salt, plus another 2-3 generous pinches for finishing
1 t. vanilla extract
¼ t. baking soda
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the almonds evenly on a baking sheet and toast until golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes. Let cool completely.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick liner, and evenly spread half of the almonds on top. There should be no visible parchment paper between the almonds. Reserve the remaining almonds for topping.
Combine the sugar, water, butter, molasses, and salt in a medium, heavy saucepan. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture registers 295 degrees – no more, no less – on a candy thermometer. Depending on your heat and your pot, it will take anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes. Immediately remove the pot from the heat and stir in the vanilla and baking soda. Stir well, until fully incorporated. The mixture will bubble up when you add the baking soda, so take care.
Pour the hot mixture evenly over the almonds. Work quickly, as it will begin setting up immediately. If necessary, use a lightly-oiled rubber spatula to spread the toffee. When the toffee is just cool enough to touch, spread the chopped chocolate over top. As the chocolate melts from the warmth, use a spatula to spread it across the toffee. Sprinkle the rest of the almonds, and then a couple of pinches of sea salt over the chocolate to finish. Let cool completely. (I’ve been known to speed things up by sliding the pan into the refrigerator.)
Break the cooled sheet into pieces. The toffee will keep in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for several weeks. Do not freeze.
Yield: About 1½ pounds.