“I have not met anyone who will turn down my butter crunch candy.” My great aunt Emma used to say this in the winter months. Our family’s legendary cook loved to make candies when the cold winds howled outdoors. One of my childhood memories involves me scooping her driveway clear of snow, a steaming cup of hot cocoa, and pieces of butter crunch candy. Treats don’t get much better than that.
Many years later, Emma’s energy declined, so she sometimes asked some of us to help prepare smorgasbord meals, desserts, and candy. I felt honored to have her guide me through the process of butter crunch creation.
First we greased a cookie pan with butter and set it aside to a cool place. She brought out a large bag of almond pieces and had me chop them up to a fine texture. We ended up with two cups of this.
Then Emma had me lift her big pressure cooker onto the range. We weren’t going to pressure cook anything, it’s just that the pan was big and sturdy. She had me slowly melt a cup of butter (not margarine) in that pan. Once it was melted, she had me pour in a cup and a quarter of granulated table sugar and two tablespoons of clear Karo corn syrup, plus two tablespoons of water. Emma told me to always accurately measure the ingredients when making butter crunch.
She inserted her trusty candy thermometer into the pressure cooker pan and had me constantly stir the sugary mixture over medium heat with a wooden spoon. As soon as the thermometer read 300 degrees Fahrenheit the process became fast and why she needed my faster reflexes.
I lifted the pan from the hot burner, then continued stirring while Emma slowly added the chopped almonds. As soon as the mixture was ready, she had me pour and spread the hot mixture onto the cookie sheet. Then we drank coffee while the candy mixture cooled and solidified.
I then turned the cookie sheet upside down onto the countertop and tapped it a few times so the candy would come out in one piece. I carefully placed it back onto the pan for the next steps.
We melted eight Hershey chocolate bars in a double boiler. Emma said that she used to prepare melted chocolate from scratch with sugar and unsweetened cocoa. She found out that melted candy bars taste exactly the same as scratch. Once the chocolate was melted, I poured and spread half of it onto the solidified almond candy. We had more coffee while it cooled.
Later, I turned the candy upside down again, then poured the rest of the melted chocolate on the reverse side of the candy. Then we finished our coffee while the product cooled. When the second side had solidified, we broke the finished candy sheet into pieces and placed them into a canister. Of course, we enjoyed a couple of chunks ourselves as a special reward.
While some variation of home made butter crunch has probably existed for many years, the concoction became commercially popular around a hundred years ago, in Tacoma, Washington. Harry Brown and J.C. Haley came up with their version of butter crunch to be sold by their company, Brown & Haley. Their candies were shaped like small logs and wrapped in foil. The treats were named “Almond Roca”. The company became famous during World War Two. The candy was shipped to American soldiers and was relished as a special treat.
Today is National Buttercrunch Day, so you have a legitimate excuse to indulge in buttercrunch in any of its forms. Whether its some Almond Roca, a Heath Bar, buttercrunch ice cream, cookies, pie, or home-made candy, be sure to savor the flavor.