There is a whole world of delicious Spanish sweets called "turrón" that Guirlache is part of. Probably of arabic, medieval origin, traditional turrones usually include almonds and honey (guirlache, jijona) or almonds, honey and eggs (alicante). There are many modern variations now that have moved far beyond this mighty ingredient trio. However, I am particularly fond of the tradtional versions that have such deep roots in the Iberian Peninsula's history.
Special (optional) ingredients
Marcona Almonds (raw, unsalted)
Candy coated anís seeds- If you are not using wafer paper, these are a really nice addition. I have a hard time deciding whether I like the streamlined look of the wafer paper, or the extra flavor kick of the anise candies. Your choice! Sugared fennel is pretty common, but sugared anise is harder to come by. De Ruyter, a Dutch company, makes both anise "hagel" (anise flavored sugar sprinkles, available on Amazon), and anise "muisjes" (candy coated aniseed, and harder to find, but worth it if you can).
Set a dry towel and place a piece of wafer paper on it. Have a second piece of wafer paper at the ready
1# marcona almonds, lightly toasted in moderate oven
2T anís liqueur
In a heavy bottomed pot, add sugar, honey and liqueur and heat on med-high heat.With a wooden spoon, help the ingredients mix as the heat softens and melts them.
Sugars will caramelize quite quickly, and reach a dark, mahogany color (on a candy thermometer this is about 165F)
Add the butter and stir in.
Add the almonds and aniseed. Combine well. With the addition of cooler ingredients (like the almonds) the caramel may stiffen up. Keep it moving. You may keep the heat on low to prevent too much cooling.
Pour the coated almond mixture onto the prepared wafer paper and, working quickly and gently, push the nuts to the edges as best possible. When you have achieved an even layer, place the second wafer paper on top. Carefully smooth and even out the guirlache with a rolling pin.
Allow the guirlache to cool down. When it is warm but not hot, slide it off the towel and on to a cutting surface. Using a long, sharp knife, cut into 5 or 6 even strips. A bit of butter on the knife blade is helpful.
Allow to cool fully, and enjoy!
No wafer paper?
If you are making this without waferpaper, simply press the hot coated nuts into a lightly buttered pan. If you can find candied aniseed, sprinkle it onto for decoration and added flavor.