2 C. sliced almonds
1 1/4 C. (firmly packed) light brown sugar
2 T. water
1/2 C. butter
1 t. vanilla extract
1/4 t. baking soda
2 3-oz.bars bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, broken into squares or coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Place almonds on a cookie sheet and bake them, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden. Cool completely.
In a food processor with the metal blade, pulse almonds until they are very finely chopped but not powdery. You could also chop them by hand.
Sprinkle half the nuts over a 7- by 11-inch area of a greased cookie sheet. Place it near the stove. Also have the vanilla and baking soda near the stove.
In a heavy, medium-size saucepan, combine brown sugar, water and butter and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Stir often to prevent burning until mixture reaches 285° F. Immediately remove saucepan from heat because the temperature will continue to rise to 290° F. and add vanilla extract and baking soda. Pour toffee mixture evenly over nuts on the cookie sheet.
Immediately scatter chocolate over the hot toffee. Press pieces lightly with your fingers so they start melting. After about 5 minutes, the chocolate will be soft enough to spread with a metal spatula in an even layer over the surface of the toffee. Cover the chocolate with remaining chopped almonds. Cool completely and break into irregular pieces. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Keeps about 1 month.