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Nana’s Almond Roca Recipe {Homemade Almond Roca}

Addicting homemade candy, my Nana’s Almond Roca Recipe is the perfect holiday treat. Whip up a batch of this easy almond toffee for a special homemade gift. A delicious buttercrunch toffee topped with melted chocolate, this will become a family holiday favorite year after year.

a white dish full of a homemade almond roca recipe

Growing up, in the final three weeks before Christmas, our family would stalk the front porch for a UPS delivery that contained the ultimate in holiday goodness – Nana’s Almond Roca recipe.

When my grandma passed away in 1995, the Almond Roca tradition came to an end. Eventually, my aunt painstakingly recreated it with the help of the world’s vaguest recipe card from my grandma’s kitchen.

an old hand-written recipe for almond roca

Much like Aunt Barbara’s Old Fashioned Fudge and my mom’s Nordy Bars, homemade almond roca is a holiday tradition that we enjoy once a year. And I’m excited to share it with you and your family!

What is the difference between Almond Roca and English Toffee?

English toffee (which also be called buttercrunch) and almond roca are all essentially the same thing presented in slightly different ways. Almond Roca is a product from the Brown and Haley company in Tacoma that was sold way back starting in 1914. You can still find it today.

I can always tell where someone grew up based on if they call it buttercrunch, English toffee, or almond roca.

It all eats the same and it is all delicious.

What is Almond Roca Made Of?

  • Almonds
  • White organic sugar
  • Corn syrup (I use organic)
  • Butter – salted and make it the best quality you can afford
  • Semi-sweet chocolate

This is one of those recipes that I just don’t mess with. The ingredients are horribly unhealthy but thankfully, we only make it once a year.

Do I have to Blanch the Almonds?

This recipe does call for blanched almonds, and that is one of those incredibly annoying details because blanching almonds is a giant PITA!

Since some of the almonds are added to the toffee mixture during cooking and aggressively stirred around, any skin will likely slip off and result in speckled toffee. Additionally, the skin on the almonds can be bitter to some people.

I have included directions on how to blanch the almonds yourself, but you can totally buy them like that to save time.

Helpful Almond Roca Recipe Supply List

*If you don’t have a candy thermometer, read the recipe carefully for visual cues to know when your toffee is done.

Common Almond Roca Recipe Issues

The most common issue when making the buttercrunch is allowing the ingredients to change temperature too rapidly. I cook mine on a constant medium to medium-low (depending on your stove) temp to maintain a steady temp.

If you adjust the temperature of the toffee suddenly, it may “break” and the butter could separate. Steady heating the whole time is the way to go!

Speaking of even heating, you’ll need a quality heavy-bottomed saucepan to prevent the buttercrunch from burning. Stick with a larger saucepan (12ish cups) that you can still lift to pour (i.e., don’t use enameled cast iron).

Another common mistake is making your homemade roca on a hot or rainy day. For best results, make your homemade almond roca on a cool dry day. Additional humidity in the air can and likely will impact the quality of your toffee. Science!

If you use crappy unsalted butter, your roca is going to have some issues. The buttercrunch may become grainy and lack flavor.

And finally, my last piece of advice is to NOT try to double this recipe. It’s so tempting (all the stirring!), but just like when you’re making jam, doubling = trainwreck.

How to Make a Homemade Almond Roca Recipe

*A detailed (i.e., measurements) and printable recipe card is available at the bottom of this post.

Let’s blanch some almonds!  Remember, you can buy these. 🙂

Add your almonds to a heatproof bowl (I used my all-time favorite mixing bowl) and pour some boiling water over them.

Drain the almonds, give them a good rinse and drain them again. Give them a few minutes to cool down until you can handle them without burning yourself.

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 (I used a paring knife). Line a baking sheet with a clean tea towel. Spread the almonds on the towel to dry. I adapted these instructions from This Mess is Ours.

Pulse 1/4 cup of the almonds in a food processor. Leave the rest halved.

Making the buttercrunch

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Place the baking sheet on a thick towel or a few potholders.

Combine the water, sugar, and corn syrup in your saucepan. Heat over medium heat until it reaches a rolling boil. If it doesn’t boil after 5 minutes, gradually increase the temperature until it does. 

Add the butter, and stir the mixture until it has melted. Add your almonds and 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! Pro tip: using a small wooden spoon is the most comfortable way to stir this thick toffee. Silicone spatulas just don’t seem to be strong enough.

If you’re using a candy thermometer, it will be ready at 295 degrees (hardcrack stage).

If you don’t have a candy thermometer, the toffee will be a creamy beige color and it will smell like caramel. And heaven. And the tears of unicorns. So there you go.

Pour the buttercrunch onto the parchment-lined baking sheet, and working very quickly, spread it around the pan.

Sprinkle the buttercrunch with the chocolate chips, and allow them to get melty. Pro tip: if your kitchen is on the cooler side, lightly tent the baking sheet with a piece of foil or another baking sheet to speed up the melting process.

Use a butter knife to spread the chocolate evenly over the toffee. Immediately sprinkle with reserved crushed almonds.

Two photos showing the process of making buttercrunch

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 in an air-tight container for up to 4 weeks.

Or you know, hide it in various places around your house. 🙂

a canning jar full of homemade almond roca

Pro Tips/Recipe Notes

  • If you have Trader Joe’s near you, they carry very affordable organic corn syrup around the holidays.
  • This is one of those recipes where it is worth shelling out the extra cash for top-quality butter. Storebrand butter often will result in an oily layer on top of the toffee. I use Kerrygold from Costco or Organic Valley’s European-style butter that I buy in bulk from Azure Standard. Never use margarine.
  • I recommend the best chocolate chips you can afford. I personally love the Costco brand in the white bag they sell every fall. I’ve seen recipes where people use Hershey bars. If you use low-quality chocolate like that, you’ll find it will easily separate from the buttercrunch when cooled. 

More Delicious Homemade Candy You’ll Love

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Easy Peppermint Bark

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Peppermint Bark Graham Crackers

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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.

homemade english on a gray cloth with almonds

Making this recipe or others?

Post a photo on my Facebook page, share it on Instagram, or save it to Pinterest with the tag #sustainablecooks. I can't wait to see your take on it!

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5 from 5 votes
Nana's Almond Roca Recipe {Homemade Almond Roca}
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
20 mins
Cooling time
2 hrs
Total Time
3 hrs 20 mins
 

Addicting homemade candy, my Nana's Almond Roca Recipe is the perfect holiday treat. Whip up a batch of this easy almond toffee for a special homemade gift.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Almond roca recipe, buttercrunch candy, Homemade English toffee
Servings: 30
Calories: 261 kcal
Ingredients
Instructions
Blanching Almonds
  1. Place almonds in a heatproof bowl. Pour boiling water over the almonds. Let sit for 45-60 seconds.

  2. Drain the almonds, rinse in cold water, and allow to drain again. Cool enough to handle.

  3. Pinch the almond between thumb and forefinger and gently squeeze to remove the skin.  Repeat until all almonds are peeled.

  4. 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.

  5. In a food processor, pulse 1/4 cup of almonds until they resemble fine crumbs. Set aside.

Almond Roca
  1. Line a 12x17 baking sheet with parchment.

  2. Bring 1/4 cup water, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil over medium heat.

  3. Add the butter, stirring gently. When it has melted, add the almonds. Stir constantly until the almonds are browned and it smells like caramel. The mixture will be very thick but keep stirring! If you're using a candy thermometer, it will be ready at 295 degrees (hardcrack stage).

  4. Remove from heat and using a wooden spoon, quickly spread on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment. 

  5. Sprinkle the buttercrunch with the chocolate chips, and allow them to get melty. If your kitchen is cold, lightly tent a piece of foil over the baking sheet to assist the melting process of the chocolate chips.

  6. Use an offset spatula or butter knife to spread the chocolate evenly over the toffee. Immediately sprinkle with reserved crushed almonds.

  7. Place the tray in a cool place in your house or fridge, and allow to cool completely.

  8. Break into pieces and store in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 4 weeks.

Recipe Notes

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.

 

Important: for best results, make your homemade almond roca on a cool dry day. Additional humidity in the air can and likely will impact the quality of your toffee. 

 

To avoid the toffee separating, keep the temperature constant and avoid cooking the buttercrunch too quickly.

 

If you don't have a candy thermometer, the toffee will be ready when it is a creamy beige color and it will smell like caramel. 

Nutrition Facts
Nana's Almond Roca Recipe {Homemade Almond Roca}
Amount Per Serving (33 g)
Calories 261 Calories from Fat 153
% Daily Value*
Fat 17g26%
Saturated Fat 6g38%
Cholesterol 16mg5%
Sodium 58mg3%
Potassium 172mg5%
Carbohydrates 23g8%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 19g21%
Protein 3g6%
Vitamin A 195IU4%
Calcium 50mg5%
Iron 1.3mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

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13 comments on “Nana’s Almond Roca Recipe {Homemade Almond Roca}”

  1. Pingback: 38 of the Best Christmas Food Gifts for Your Neighbors

  2. chocolate… yum. butter… yum.

  3. for some reason the ingredients just crack me up, I had no idea that is what is in these! And they are so good

  4. I’m super lazy and am wondering how essential it is to blanch the almonds. Is it just for looks? *crosses fingers hopefully*

    • You can buy blanched almonds! It is to make the finished product more clean and pleasing. Almonds with skin on have some bitterness. Plus the skins will start to come off during all the stirring and will be floating around in the toffee. If it doesn’t bother you, go for the skin-on.

      • Perfect! We bought a huge thing of almonds years ago and I’m looking forward to using them up. Thanks!

      • It’s a Christmas miracle! Not only did the Rocca turn out beautifully, but both kids napped during the crucial boiling and spreading times. Thank you for sharing this family recipe!

      • Isn’t it amazing when the kids actually nap when we need them to? Praise the Christmas miracle. So glad you were able to make it and I hope you loved it.

  5. Thank you for sharing this SWEET family tradition!

  6. WHY would you tempt me with this delicious looking treat!?! I am so trying this for Christmas baking. Thanks for sharing.