I love the National Food Holiday website. It gives me ideas and is an effective kick-start for the Spoon.
With that in mind — drum roll please — today is National Almond Buttercrunch Day. Are you ready for it?
This is another reason I like the site. I wasn’t sure what buttercrunch was and that meant it was time to visit my other buddy, Google.
It didn’t let me down.
Buttercrunch, it turns out, is like English toffee without chocolate.
It was hard to pick between the dozen or so recipes Google dredged up, all similar but with just enough differences that I’m planning my own buttercrunch day and will test a number of them. The results, I’m sure, even if not totally successful will go a long way to bolster my popularity with co-worker taste testers.
However, I can’t pass up the holiday without a recipe or two in acknowledgment. That’s when my thoughts turned to a couple of time-tested favorites that masquerade as English toffee.
Made with soda crackers, Diana Richardson’s English toffee bars are unique. Oh, by the way, no need to worry about your teeth with these, they as delicate as they are delicious.
NOT-SO-ENGLISH TOFFEE BARS
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
35 individual soda crackers
1 12-ounce bag chocolate chips
1 cup sliced or chopped almonds
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet — one with sides — or jellyroll pan with foil and grease with butter, oil or nonstick cooking spray. Place soda crackers on foil in a single layer. Melt butter and sugar together and cook at a slow rolling boil for three minutes, stirring constantly until smooth. Pour sugar mixture over crackers and spread to sides of pan. Bake for 5 to 8 minutes or until golden brown. Watch closely — don’t burn. Remove from oven, sprinkle chocolate chips on top, spread evenly when softened. Sprinkle with almonds and refrigerate until hard. Break into pieces and store in an airtight container.
Not only do the next cookies mimic English toffee, they — due to their name — falsely project healthfulness. From the late Hannah Bauer many moons ago, these are absolutely delicious. They taste like Almond Roca and are very easy to make. Hannah said she got the recipe from a Palo Alto newspaper.
Hannah baked these when The Book Loft held a signing for a series of children’s books she authored. Hannah wrote eight delightful stories, the “Happy Hannah” series. She used eight of her 10 grandchildren as main characters, focusing on each child’s unique personality. Sadly, her books are out of print, but her toffee squares live on. Hannah joked that with “wheat germ” in the name, they almost sound good for you.
Hah! Nothing this delicious could ever be “good” for anyone.
HANNAH’S WHEAT-GERM TOFFEE SQUARES
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated or brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup wheat germ
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
Beat butter with sugar, vanilla and salt until creamy. Mix in wheat germ and flour. Press into bottom of greased 14x9-inch pan. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden on edges. Remove and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Return to oven and bake another 5 minutes or until chocolate has melted. Remove and spread chocolate evenly over top. Sprinkle with nuts, pressing into chocolate and cut into squares. Cool in refrigerator for a couple of hours or overnight before removing from pan. Makes 3 dozen squares. Store in an airtight container.