Dad – noun. A man with pictures in his wallet where his money used to be…
Fatherhood’s gotta be the most testing, expensive and rewarding part of any man’s lifetime. If you do it well, like my dad did, you’ll only be nagged occasionally but thanked profusely especially on days like today (Father’s Day).
As much as my dad isn’t here anymore, I figured I’d create this post around a recipe of mine that he absolutely loved. Enter my Almond Roca. It fixes absolutely everything. Broken heart? Almond Roca. Bad day at work? Almond Roca. Car accident? Almond Roca. Wife giving you gears? Almond Roca. Need a little sweetness up in yo life? Yup, you guessed it… Almond Roca.
So, this magical slab of crunch came about when I was in matric, and I’ve been making it ever since. You only need 6 ingredients, which is my kinda recipe because I always seem to forget what needs replacing until I actually need it during baking… OH SNAP.
Make a batch of this, fill little jars, do a drive by and give them to the ones you love. Or don’t. Keep it all for yourself, you’ll probably want to anyway. It’s so good I’m convinced that not even Mother Theresa herself (rest her soul) would share this. But, if I were you, I’d whip some up for your dad in honour of Father’s Day (and because he’s such a good oke). Unless he’s allergic to almonds… then just omit them from the recipe. Side note: it is epic crushed up over Woolies Tin Roof ice cream (see below). YOH. Side-side note: We’re totally in winter now people, EAT AND BE MERRY!
The key to making this is meticulous measuring. Seriously. And of course a good sugar thermometer. Just be careful, that shit is hotter than a dad’s temper when he finds out you’ve scheduled an early Father’s Day dinner when an SA test match is on! Sugar burns are 100% the most painful of all. True story. So, don’t test it. (I did that for you to save you the trouble…)
This stuff is an epic reminder of the fact that sometimes the best things are the simplest ones. It’s also proof that sometimes we need a few nuts in our lives to balance shit out. It’s the ultimate testimony that heat yields the sweetest results both in the kitchen and in life. This Almond Roca is also the token of my insatiable sweet tooth that I will never outgrow. Trust me, I’m still trying!
So, as much as the Black Eyed Peas would rather focus on what we got from our mamas, in the true spirit of Father’s Day, here’s a list of things I know I got from my Dad. You know what they say about the apple and the tree? Stoked I got to be your apple, dad. I couldn’t have asked for a better tree:
- A love for sweet things. I used to make this Almond Roca often and he loved sneaking handfuls from the container when he thought I wasn’t looking…
- A set of eagle eyes. Dad, I always knew when you stole my treats. I was ALWAYS looking. My dad was so observant it was scary. Just because he didn’t react, didn’t mean he didn’t notice…
- A never-ending love affair with the dance floor. If anyone could bust the most impressive moves, it was my dad. Put us both together… that shit was LIT.
- The weirdest sense of humour. EVER. Every day I see something hysterical and send a mental note to my dad. Rob, thank you for teaching me to laugh at the little things, and to forward the bigger ones onto those who’d appreciate the giggle.
- Yep, my dad was a walking jukebox and I was blessed to have grown up listening to some of the greatest music of all time. Some of my fondest memories included waking up on a Sunday morning to Bob Marley or watching him rock out to Bon Jovi in his pajamas. Side note: I did not (repeat: DID NOT) inherit his tone-deafness. WINNING!
- Corny sayings. Some would argue it’s why I became a copywriter… Personal faves included: “Measure twice, cut once” and “now we’re cooking with gas!” Although I never quite knew what I was measuring or cooking, or why I needed to cut it or potentially use gas. LOL.
- Stubborn AF. The only person more stubborn than my dad? Me. But with this stubborn will comes a complete conviction and utter passion for whatever it is that I am doing. So whether I’m trying to achieve some sort of goal or just trying to make you a sandwich, I will not stop until it’s the best damn sandwich you’ve ever had. So, thanks dad, this one has proved to make all the difference at times when I could have just given up. Side note: Another reason why I haven’t given up is because I know you’d send a lightning bolt for me. Ha.
- Ambition and incredible work ethic. Those who knew my dad will know that he wasn’t afraid to work hard. He always used to laugh and tell me, “Bronny my baby, don’t work hard. Work smart.” This is something that’s stuck with me throughout life and something I use every day.
So, this one’s for all the dads who make life a little sweeter. To the nutty ones who dock your street cred by at least 5 points at any family gathering. For the protective ones with daughters who think every date is the next installment of the TAKEN franchise. (Sit down Liam Neeson, you don’t know shit! You haven’t met my dad). For the softies who like to play it hardcore (newsflash: real dad’s cry! And, they drink pink drinks, too). For the fashion challenged, the lame joke tellers, the wannabe braai masters, the remote hoggers and the best damn couch referees irrespective of what sport is on, Happy Father’s Day Dads. We love you.
Yours in Baking, Bitching and a slow clap for the ballies (because “xoxo” was too mainstream and because Beyonce might have got it wrong. Who run the world? DADS!)
230g of salted butter
1 and 1/3 cup of white granulated sugar
1 tablespoon of maple syrup
3 tablespoons of water
½ slab of dark chocolate
Flaked almonds, toasted
Sugar thermometer – Don’t have one? Grab one here: https://www.yuppiechef.com/kitchen-craft-cooks-tools.htm?id=1316&name=Kitchen-Craft-Home-Made-Cooking-Thermometer&ref=search
- Melt the butter.
- Add the sugar, water and syrup.
- Cook, stirring until you reach 300 degrees Fahrenheit on a sugar thermometer (trust me, you’ll be there for like 10-15 minutes. Don’t make any plans. Ha).
- When you reach 300 degrees F, pour it onto a baking tray (you don’t need to grease or line it). BE CAREFUL THAT SHIT IS HOT.
- Leave to set until the mixture has hardened and is totally cooled.
- Invert the tray on top of a piece of baking paper and press down on the tray firmly to release the slab of Roca.
- Melt chocolate in a microwave and spread a thin layer on top of your slab of candy.
- Top with toasted almonds.
- Put in the fridge for the chocolate to set.
- Remove from the tray and on a piece of baking paper, break up aith the jerk of a sharp knife.
- Store in a Tupperware in the fridge and distribute accordingly. Or don’t – hog it all to yourself!